Black History Abroad: D-Day - A Trip To Normandy

 A few of the Tuskegee Airmen, key to the victory in Normandy.

A few of the Tuskegee Airmen, key to the victory in Normandy.

While there are many controversial issues that Americans are faced with now and have been in the past, the one thing that we can certainly agree upon is that there is an abundance of history tied to this country.  At the beginning of June, I took a trip to learn more about our U.S. History in France.  I was pretty excited about this because I had no idea what to expect.  I had never met anyone that had attended, so I was ready for this new adventure.

While I was delighted that I had the privilege to spend about five days in Normandy, I shocked at how much I did not know and how much I did know was unavailable to me at the sites that I visited.

So just a brief overview of what Normandy is known for: D-Day was the first day of a summer-long war where the U.S., along with Britain and Canada, landed on five beaches of the coast of France in hopes of liberating this country from the Nazis that took over.  This was definitely a historical event that many may have read about in their middle school or high school textbooks.

Being in France for this remembrance stunned me for many reasons.  Namely, watching how the citizens of this country worshipped Americans and showed their appreciation over 70 years later.  From military regalia, to old service vehicles that I am assuming the U.S. left behind, to current soldiers parachuting out of planes (this was something that I had never witnessed), France celebrated its liberation like Americans celebrate the Fourth of July.  American flags, American military gear, American t-shirts; American slogans, ceremonies for War World II veterans, this was something that I never would have expected.

 A couple of the war reenactment buffs getting ready to perform.

A couple of the war reenactment buffs getting ready to perform.

 Some of the American soldiers storming the beach for battle.

Some of the American soldiers storming the beach for battle.

 One of the memorials for the fallen soldiers...not sure why it was so phallic.

One of the memorials for the fallen soldiers...not sure why it was so phallic.

In addition to visiting both Utah and Omaha beach, I also visited The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum.  The one thing that stood out to me at this museum and basically the entire five days I was in Normandy was that there was very minimal information about our African American community that played a part in this victory.

 One of the few mentions of black soldiers in Normandy.

One of the few mentions of black soldiers in Normandy.

This intrigued me so much that when I came home, I researched just how vital African Americans were to War World II.  Now, I did find one small article and actually two exhibits on African Americans at The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum, but this was the extent of seeing any more information regarding African Americans in the war. 

As I sat and drafted this blog, I kept asking myself whether I would discuss this, but this was the evolution of African Americans being immersed in our history as something positive, right?  So why was it not mentioned?  Why didn’t the historians that helped put together the museums and other memorials fail to think that this was something Americans should be proud to celebrate in our history?  Everyone knows what was going on prior to War World II in America, so this was growth for us as a country.  So, I was amazed that the historians that helped bring light to the D-Day historical monuments and museums failed to depict these African American soldiers that fought just as hard as any other soldier. Therefore, I challenge everyone to take the time to do a little research of your own to truly obtain an objective view of history. 

Overall, just by being in attendance, it made me appreciate being a part of this country that was so selfless in so many ways to come across waters and liberate those that were horrifically treated, but confused me in other ways of knowing that we had many that were horrifically treated on the home front.  But again, it’s important to learn your history; the good, the bad, the ugly, and all sides.

 Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

And finally, we visited Mont Saint-Michel.  This prominent site was breathtaking and full of so much history. As you make plans for summer June 2017, this should definitely be a place that you should think of visiting with Paris within driving distance. 

I challenge everyone to travel and learn your history! Here's some stuff I found to give a little more insight into the black soldiers and their role in D-Day.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/world/europe/07prexy.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/all-black-battalion-fought-d-day-honored-article-1.373709

http://thegrio.com/2014/06/06/black-soldiers-d-day/

 My husband and I enjoying the history in Normandy.

My husband and I enjoying the history in Normandy.