We rented mountain bikes today to bicycle to Ravenoville, FR about 24 miles (40 km) from La Haye-du-Puits. By the time we got there, I almost in tears because the bike was not fitted for me and caused me pain. We did not know the area and made a few wrong turns, but managed to get there prior to the invitations-only commemoration honoring the American Airborne soldiers who liberated the town on D-Day +1.
To open the ceremony, a woman sang the American, French, and German national anthems. Of course, there was recognition all the dignitaries and introduction of each veteran that was present. (Jim “Peewee” Martin was missing, having gone to jump from a plane). William Sullivan, who was in the 82nd 505th Headquarters as was Dennis’s father, was also present, but he left before Dennis could speak with him. Hopefully they will meet up before we leave.
There was a presentation of the colors, a fly over by the C47s, and then each honoree (or family representative) was given a bronze statue representing an Airborne paratrooper. The figurines are cast of bronze and finished one at a time. The unique figurines are numbered. The one Dennis received is number 50, while the person next to him received number 1–the gift of the draw. These statues were a surprise and very moving occasion.
The ceremony ended with the theme song from Band of Brothers. I had never heard the song and both Dennis and I were moved to tears by it.
Since I was too sore to ride back, I hitched a ride to Sainte-Mère-Église on a Belgian 1.5 ton, WW II US military fire truck. It was a nice ride back, and I enjoyed talking the real-life firemen who were re-enacting the WWII fire brigade.
Dennis, stayed to see if he could talk to the veterans and have a glass of champagne. I was surprised to see him so quickly and we skedaddled to the bus stop to catch the bus, which was late as we expected. This was good because we were able to put the bikes in the baggage storage under the bus, and make it back to La Haye-du-Puits in time to return the bikes. We then made plans to return in the morning to rent a scooter.
Since the sun does not set until after 10 pm, our eating habits are screwed up. We had a late supper and then turned in, tired by the days adventures.