Monday, February 22, 2010

Band of Brothers - Part II

Once the salty old dogs had finished with the Paris scene it was time to round up the next generation for an educational outing.

The scholastic experience began with an interactive multimedia experience that took place in the backseat classroom. Lincoln acted out the part of the Allied Forces in the Normandy invasion while Graham and Eli tried to watch "The Longest Day".

Next we disembarked at the gun emplacements at Longues de Mer, unleashing the troops to storm the batteries with snowballs.

After what was probably not enough time out of the car we moved on to the cemetery above Omaha Beach, (the one in Saving Private Ryan) - which is an incredibly moving experience I highly recommend - and which was only a bit marred by the challenge of explaining to Lincoln why running around with snowballs and screaming was not just not OK. There is also a great museum with displays that help younger audiences put the sacrifices and horrors of D-Day into a context they could grasp.

Lesson learned, our final stop of the day was Pointe de Hoc - where an intrepid team of U.S. Rangers scaled ridiculously sheer cliffs under enemy fire to capture and disable gun emplacements threatening the invasion fleet, taking something like 70 percent casualties in the process... The area has also been heavily bombed, which leaves the sense of a battlefield, and the boys took the opportunity to re-engage the enemy (the older generation) - hiding in bomb craters and ruined gun emplacements and striking from the shadow with snow, ice and even bare hands.

After an overnight in a quaint old town, and a breakfast of baguette and cheese we set off to see Mont Saint-Michel - passing tantalizingly close to Alligatorland - to the disappointment of the youngest brothers in the band...

Perhaps humbled by the accomplishments of the "greatest generation" - our band was able to scale the countless steps all the way to the top of the famous abbey, and also managed to keep the youngest brother away from various dropoffs of a hundred feet or more.

After one last meal punctuated by cheese and crepes we headed off to liberate Paris, and send the off our brother in arms - until the next adventure - wherever and whenever that might be...

The past and future of the Armored Cavalry (Matt this one's for you)

The victors of the Battle at Longues de Mer

The Band of Brothers in their Barracks

Cemetery above Omaha Beach

Lincoln's method for beating the cold

Cliffs at Pointe de Hoc

Before the sneak attacks...

The Counter-Offensive

Making the pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel

Almost to the top

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