This week we had the opportunity to travel with Elder and Sister Mahaffey up to the north of France. The Mahaffey's are in the Lyon mission office, and along with a myriad of other things, they are responsible for the fleet of mission cars. One of the cars needed to be exchanged at the Paris mission office near Versailles. While in the north, we went to visit the Normandy beaches where Elder Mahaffey's father landed on D-day in 1944.
The signage at the visitors center of the American cemetery overlooking Omaha beach translates the expression "D-day" as "le jour-J". A hostess at the center explained that "le jour J" is not only specifically the name for the allied invasion of June 6, 1944, but is also a general expression for any special day or event. A wedding, a graduation, or a football final might be called a "jour-J".
It is quite a moving experience to visit the beachs and other sites where so many young men and women sacrificed so much. And they did it for people that they didn't even know. We couldn't help but see a little bit of a parallel between them and our young missionaries today. The missionaries are making a very different kind of sacrifice to be sure. But it is a significant sacrifice; and like those soldiers of 1944, they are young, and their motive is a love for those that they don't even know. We are kind of proud of our little band of missionaries who make every day a "jour-J".
Elder Mahaffey taking a moment on Utah beach where his father landed in June, 1944.
One of the Higgins boats that landed the soldiers on the beaches.
A Nazi gun bunker at Pointe du Hoc, a strategic point between Utah and Omaha beaches.
Early in the morning of 6 June 1944, American paratroopers jumped to cut off German access to the beaches from the west. One soldier was caught on the church spire at Sainte Mère-Eglise.
On the same morning, three British Horsa gliders landed within 50 yards of the Bénouville bridge. Capturing that bridge cut off the Nazi reinforcements from getting to the beaches from the east. The bridge was renamed "Pegasus Bridge" after the insignia worn by the British glider unit.
Pegasus bridge. The first casualty of D-day happened here.
The American cemetery at Omaha Beach.
Over 9,000 burials.
Many people, especially those here in Normandy, remember.
In front of the Caen War Memorial. Speaks for itself.