A Day On The Normandy Beaches

I grew up in an army family, read a ton of military history books as a kid, and know the story of D-Day like the back of my hand. But in almost 50 years, I've never visited the beaches where US, British, and Canadian troops landed on June 6, 1944. Today we rectified that. I went with the Gotham Gal and our son Josh.

We started at the western edge of Omaha Beach at Pointe Du Hoc where Army Rangers climbed steep cliffs to take out german guns that could have caused havoc on both Omaha to the east and Utah to the west. Turns out that the guns weren't there but 5 miles away. Even so, those Rangers ended up seeing a lot of difficulty in the ensuing days. This is what the area above the cliffs looks like. You can still see the effects of the allied bombs that softened up the german defenses in the days before D-Day.

Point du hoc #2 

At Pointe Du Hoc, I got an interesting lesson in the differences between my generation and my son's generation. We walked off the path onto this open terrain and Josh said, "wow, they really nailed this in Call Of Duty." Turns out Josh has played this battle more times in Call Of Duty than I read about it in books as a kid. I found out today that he had learned a lot about D-Day playing video games. 

Next stop was Omaha Beach. The first thing you notice about Omaha Beach is how wide it is and how much territory the troops had to cross to get the safety of the sea wall and the bluffs.

Omaha beach

After visiting Omaha Beach, we visited the American Military Cemetery where about 10,000 US troops are buried, many of whom died on D-Day or in the ensuing month long campaign to secure Normandy under Allied control. As my friend Dave told me when we were planning this trip, "the americans do military cemeteries really well." He's right. I've been to a fair number of them and they are always maintained immaculately and are very moving.


After that, we made our way to Arromanches, where the British built a port to bring all of the supplies and equipment ashore after the beaches were secured. It was an amazing engineering feat and the Musee Du Debarquement does a good job of explaining how it was done. Afterward, we sat on a deck and had lunch overlooking the remains of the steel barges that are still in the ocean. Amazing stuff.


We barely touched the amount of historic sites and museums that you could visit on the Normandy coast. We have friends who spent a whole week here visiting the sites and learning the history of this historic battle. But it was a great day. Here is a map of the places we stopped today courtesy of Foursquare and Google Maps.

Normandy foursquare checkins 

One hundred and seventy-five thousand troops came ashore on June 6, 1944. About four thousand of them lost their lives and another six thousand were wounded or captured. Though those numbers are large in terms of lives lost and sacrifices made, it was a very successful effort. If you compare D-Day to Iwo Jima, for example, the losses were much less for an invasion force that was almost 2.5x larger.

Visiting the beaches is a very moving experience that reminds you of the costs our country and our allies incurred 65 years ago now. I am glad I finally got to visit the beaches. It has been a lifelong desire and I am glad I finally was able to do it.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike

    And who led the Army Rangers up the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc? Why the pride of Texas A&M University, General James Earl Rudder. The man’s still a legend on campus.

    1. JLM

      Of course, it would be a bit tacky to point out that the entire war effort was being led by a VMI guy — George Catlett Marshall VMI ’01.JLM — Abn Ranger

  2. Chris LaBossiere

    Fred:You have just described the exact same day that me and my daughters experienced in 2006, on the 60th anniversary of the landings. Ours was a Canadian focused trip, as my grandfather’s route through NW Europe started at Juno Beach. That said, we found that the US Cemetery was the ultimate in tribute to the fallen, and done in such a large way, one could not help but feel humbled by the sacrifice.Good for you for exposing your kids to this unique part of our history. If you get the time, and it’s remotely on your travel path, the WWII Museum in Caen is phenomenal, and includes a very telling tribute to the holocaust survivors. and the French Resistance fighter.Chris LaBossiere

  3. Imran Ali

    People are surprised to discover that as a second generation Pakistani immigrant in Britain, that *both* my grandfathers fought for the British Army in Africa; indeed they were in the same unit!Cinema, TV, videogames and pop culture has kept alive the memory and history of D-Day, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal, but skipped over the hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth troops (largely from British India) that fought in Burma and North Africa. Culturally WW2 is still seen as a European/American affair, when the scale of conflict was just as intense in Africa and East Asia.I would love to think that your son could play through the battlefields of Libya and Egypt as an Indian soldier in “Call of Duty: Africa”, Arab-Israeli wars or Indian-Pakistani conflicts, but the videogame industry doesn’t feel this is important.Indeed it’s great to see other cultures moving past European/American-centric game plots and using the same tech to tell stories from their own perspectives, witness Syria’s controversial “Under Ash” http://en.wikipedia.org/wik….I love that videogames are now at a point where the visceral experience provides players like your son some lasting some historical and emotional resonance, but it saddens me that its still an industry that’s unwittingly dismissive of non-Western stories.

  4. ShanaC

    Thanks for sharing Fred- This is extremely meaningful.From what I was told, my paternal grandfather was there. He died when I was on the young end of three. I’ve seen a few pictures of him in Uniform.May one day the US army see only joy through their missions…

  5. Mark Essel

    My coworker Dave who’s now retired at 71 was a kid during ww2 and told me I’ve gotta visit Omaha beach.As a side note he still holds a grudge against Japan. His older brother influenced him as an armyweather guy in China.

    1. RichardF

      I attended a talk a couple of months ago given by a British soldier who spent time as a Japanese POW and it does not surprise me in the least that your co-worker holds a grudge.

  6. Dean Kaplan

    I’ve done this trip. The Cemetery was the most moving place I’ve ever visited.

  7. siculars

    I was there in the Fall of 2007. I remember that trip like it was yesterday. Good on you for making it out there. Something everyone should see at least once in their lives.

  8. LoJo_100

    My husband and I still need to take this trip. His father was in the Army and was there on D-Day. We have many men and women to thank for the freedoms we have.


    Was in Caen, Normandy for a business meeting and when we emerged outside, the church bells were all ringing. Sounded like a somber and symbolic gesture and I asked why. I was told by my French colleague – “It’s July 4th. Those bells pay homage to the United States. It is done every year.”Who Knew?K—

    1. Alex Murphy

      That is really cool to hear.

  10. kidmercury

    oh boy. talk about an opportunity to remind everyone of bad news! thanks boss. let me get right into it:1. as many of you will likely know FDR allowed the attack on pearl harbor to happen so that there would be the justification needed for the US to enter WWII. that is the same exact thing they did on 9/11, only 9/11 was a bit more inexcusable as they didn’t let an attack happen but rather made an attack happen — they engineered the whole thing. there are probably a few youngsters who think such macchiavellian tactics are acceptable — there is generally no hope for such youngsters, but just know that war is an economic negative, ultimately dependent upon national debt and currency debasement, and so it will be paid for. 2. as this post can be classified in the “isn’t war so patriotic” genre of thought, i did want to include a link to war is a racket by congressional medal of honor recipient major general smedley butler, a favorite text amongst american kooks. here is a short excerpt from the first chapter of the book:A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.i know lots of military people serve with the most honorable of intentions, so i do not mean to disrespect the nobility of their intentions, only to highlight that their superiors are not as noble as they are, and that this fact is extremely important and should not be ignored. and of course the way to end war is through reformation of monetary policy and the federal reserve system, which enables national debt, which enables theft by inflation, which is needed as war is economically negative activity and thus requires theft to be financed. also, this post is particularly timely as CIA agent ray mcgovern puts the odds of an israeli attack on iran in august at greater than 50%, which will pull the US into the war, which will set the stage for WW III. i blogged about it here: kidmercuryblog [dot] com/t662735/WWIII will come with more things like the “patriot” act, more national debt, greater risk of economic warfare by creditors dumping treasury bonds, and lots of terrible things no one wants to see. lastly, the video games are all paid for by the department of offense, part of their propaganda strategy. get the kids hooked on video games, plaster football games with ads, get some key celebs to promote it, and voila! the next generation of kids willing to fight a war for bankers is created.

    1. RJ Johnston

      I need read only the first sentence of #1 to realize your a nut kid.

      1. kidmercury

        lol…..in a world like ours i take being called a nut as a compliment. 🙂 if you are ever willing to engage in a discussion regarding facts, i am always happy to oblige, and view that as probably the greatest gift the internet has to offer us. if you would like to continue with random insults, though, that too gives me a chuckle, so i don’t mind and generally welcome it. 🙂

        1. RJ Johnston

          Yours is the burden of proof, “as many of you will likely know FDR allowed the attack on pearl harbor to happen so that there would be the justification needed for the US to enter WWII”, prove it.

          1. kidmercury

            the story is long, here is a link that i think does a good job of summarizing: http://www.apfn.org/apfn/pe…a couple key points:1. mccollum memo — researching that and everything around that will reveal how it all went down2. the book day of deceit: the truth about FDR and pearl harbor by robert stinnett offers a lot of information. i think stinnett is a leading authority on this subject.

          2. RJ Johnston

            I find these interesting reads but compare to Michael Moore facts, more entertainment than truth. IMHO, but thanks for the links.

    2. Alex Murphy

      Is this a joke? Not very funny. This doesn’t seem to be the forum for this rant.

      1. kidmercury

        i am always joking, but the humor is in the truth.

  11. RJ Johnston

    Thank you Fred, great post!

  12. Ant

    We were on the same beaches just yesterday on our way home to UK from holiday, shame to miss the chance to run into you and say hello by a day. Agree with you – a very moving experience, brings home the sacrifice, our 15-yr-old son seemed deeply affected, kept wanting to walk a little way away from us to take it all in. Enjoy rest of your time in Europe.

  13. Jared Sperli

    Fred,Thank you for taking the time to post about your visit to Normandy.I especially enjoyed Josh’s comment about Call of Duty getting it right. Education comes in many forms. But even with games, books, and movies, there is nothing like walking the actual ground and reflecting upon the Americans who walked it before.

  14. Denny Ferrassoli

    When I was in high school a history teacher had us watch as he played Call of Duty and the mission was to storm Omaha Beach. It was just a game but the experience was so incredible that I still remember it to this day. It gave me a sense of how truly brave and courageous those soldiers were that day. The rest of the semester the class was glued to the history book. I hope to one day visit the beaches as well, thank you for sharing Fred.

    1. JLM

      When I was at VMI as a cadet in the 1960-70s, some of our lecturers had fought at Normandy.

  15. Aviah Laor

    Things to remember:1. The power of the individual: W. Churchill determined to deny any compromise and keep Britain as the only free outpost available to re-launch troops to Europe.2. The power of many: Almost impossible to sync so many people, ships and aircrafts in a tiny piece of land. Yet they did it.3. America role in the world: We tend to forget. Without the US we would not, and probably will not, have a free world.And so many brave men, fighting for a good cause. Their finest hour. We should hope that the courage and efforts will show up not only in war times.

    1. Druce

      True – but also worth remembering we didn’t do it alone – on the ground the Soviets sacrificed and accomplished at least as much (arguable far more). By D-Day, Germany was weakened. 35% of all German soldiers had been wounded at least once (11% twice, 6% three times, 2% four times and 2% more than 4 times, according to the Interwebs).(and there are a lot of lessons we’re at risk of forgetting, but what good guys we were in WWII is not one of them LOL)

      1. JLM

        The sheer magnitude of the Russian front is almost impossible to comprehend — the vast distances covered, the vastness of the steppes, the huge numbers of troops, tanks, artillery, planes employed, the strategic nature of the ground (coal, oil, minerals), the rivers crossed in offense and defended — and the tenacity of the Russians in defending their homeland is a motivation which often overlooked.The US had a population of approximately 161MM and lost 417K soldiers killed and about 1700 civilians killed.The UK had a population of approximately 48MM and lost approximately 383K soldiers killed and 67K civilians killed.Russia had a population of approximately 170MM and lost 10MM soldiers killed and about 12MM civilians killed.The Germans had a population of approximately 69MM and lost 5.5MM soldiers killed.The numbers speak for the fierceness and magnitude of the fighting on the eastern front.Remember also that the US fought against the Japanese in addition to the Germans.

        1. fredwilson

          we talked about this at lunch yesterday in arromanches.josh asked, “what would have happened if we left it to the russians to fight the germans?” we concluded they would have fought to a standstill and ended in some sort of truce.the russian front was where the germans lost the war, but it sure helped that the US, UK, and Canada got involved on the western front

      2. Aviah Laor

        True, but Russia did survive with the US/GB arctic supply convoys, and they needed the second front desperately.

        1. Druce

          true, 500,000 Lend-Lease trucks and jeeps to Russia, 17,000 aircraft, 19,000 tanks according to the Interwebs

        2. sachmo

          The Germans had already ceased to be an effective fighting force in the east by the time the D-Day invasion was launched.Would the Russians have won without D-Day, probably but it would have taken them a year longer to do it.Would continental Europe be democratic today if the allies hadn’t opened up a second front?Probably not…

          1. JLM

            You have to know that plenty of post-WWII Army War College classes wargamed what would have happened if the Allies did not land in France in June 1944.I think it is a fair point of discussion that the Germans might have fought the Russians to a stable stalemate at a significant terrain feature — like a river — had they been able to move their manpower from the west to the east.The key was to shorten the width of their defense, to make it very costly to cross the terrain feature, to defend in depth and to crush any penetrations. When an army goes over to defense and has an opportunity to develop a mutually supporting fire plan, hardened defensive positions and a nimble reaction force — it is both damn hard to dislodge them and they should be able to fight and win outnumbered 3-5 to 1.The Germans did not really need more units, they needed more manpower to replace the dwindling bayonet strength of their existing formations. One of the strongest points of the German army was the quality of their senior Generals, their Division Commanders and the enormous combat experience of their leaders at all levels down to the platoon level. These guys had 3+ years of combat experience when the American platoon leader had zero.Had the Germans been able to replace losses as they occurred in Russia while maintaining their leadership advantage, it could have been pretty damn dicey.Had the Germans been able to buy another year and been able to replace their hardware losses — particularly tanks and artillery — while building their new jets, it could have been very, very dicey indeed.When the Allies landed in Normandy, it was only a matter of months before the Germans lost the Ruhr and that put them out of the production game. Thank goodness.

        3. sachmo

          Don’t mean in any way to belittle the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought on D-Day, but I do get annoyed when the Russian involvement in the war is downplayed.The Russian military bore the brunt of the fighting, and fought against the best equipped and most elite German units.

          1. JLM

            The German army was pretty damn good all over. Those Krauts are just damn good fighters.The Americans and British fought against some of the Germans very best units in N Africa and in Italy. The Americans learned a lot after Kasserine. The American fighting in Italy was against some of the very best German units and the terrain was awful.Russia was tank country and the war in Russia was one of maneuver. The Germans were great slashers. I doubt the Russians or the Germans ever went to bed any night in which they had cohesive lines of defense — mutually supporting units on both sides of them.It is amazing to see how well the Germans fought in defense — a huge tribute to the German General Staff system which was able to constantly repulse an attack by defense in depth and maneuver and by scraping together a few tank units to blunt the advance of the Russians. The German tanks were just the best and had they had even numbers they would have kept the Russians from even entering Germany.As late as D-Day, the Germans still had an opportunity to fight the Russians to a stalemate — not likely to beat them, mind you — but a stalemate was certainly possible.Read von Mannstein’s memoirs for a keen insight into how well the Germans fought with limited means. Von Mannstein took the Crimea to earn his Field Marshal’s baton and was the author of the actual attack plan through the Ardennes at the beginning of the war. Of course, that plan was dusted off later and became the Battle of the Bulge.It is awesome when you get a really good map of Russia and follow the fighting. The terriroty covered was huge.No sympathy for the Germans as they started the damn thing but if Hitler had listened to his Generals he could have made a much stronger stand in late 1943 and through 1944 at many major rivers in Russia.Because Hitler wanted to defend everything, he defended nothing.

          2. Aviah Laor

            Didn’t mean too. You have to admire the Russian soldiers and people for their epic fight.However, the regime was much more cynical. Stalin refused to co-operate even when they got the convoys. Their attitude to the people on the convoys was outrageous – yet Churchill continue because he knew that Russia should stand.And after the war – as JLM said, America asked only “Enough ground to bury our dead” and put a lot of effort to re-build Germany. Russia asked for half Europe.So America role in WWII is an issue that is important NOW, with all the criticism on America military involvement in the world. There is a lesson here. Churchill dedicated the first book in his WWII memories to the obvious signs that everybody ignored: “The gathering storm”. I would put a pdf copy of it on the home page of Wikileaks. It’s from a trusted source.

          3. Druce

            Ironic, no? War was declared on Germany over Poland. The Germans took half and the Russians took the other half. But no war was declared on Russia. From a human oppression standpoint the Russians were arguably no better. And of course after the war the Russians took Poland and half of Europe, so arguably not a great victory for freedom, in the short run anyway. Talk about counterfactuals, what if Hitler hadn’t invaded Russia, bought enough time to get jets, maybe an A-bomb?

          4. Aviah Laor

            Yes. Stalin could not care less for Germany to take Europe. Actually the red army suffered too many casualties because it was not ready and good officers were executed for “not being loyal”.Another irony, the Germans stopped from all places at Stalingrad. This drove Hitler crazy.

  16. Scott Carleton

    I’m also a big military history buff and have been longing to go to the beaches of Normandy.My girlfriend’s parents just got back from a tandem bicycling trip of the region and told me all about their visit to the area. They had a few particularly interesting stories about the Church Saint-Mère-Église which took good care of our fallen soldiers during the attack.Thanks for sharing

  17. Jan Schultink

    In 2 weeks time I will be here as well, showing things to my kids. I was 5 when I visited myself and still remember my questions “Why do the American graves look so “nice” and the German ones not?” “Why do officers get a star and soldiers not?” Curious to go back 35+ years later.

  18. Druce

    Went on a Band of Brothers deep dive at the beach last year… as I recall, the casualty rate for Easy in the Normandy campaign (not just D-day) was > 40%, and over the war was > 100%. And many who came through without a scratch had serious psychic trauma and quite a few died relatively young after the war.The best thing I read was the memoirs of Don Burgett -http://www.amazon.com/Donal…Stephen Ambrose was a bit more rah-rah in Band of Brothers than I would have liked. Of course, without a little Hollywood-ization he might not have had a bestseller and HBO series and those guys might not have got the deserved resurgence of recognition. Posthumous controversy over his methods did not seem a complete surprise -http://www.newyorker.com/ta…

  19. Sunchowder

    My Dad was there.

    1. Alex Murphy

      Kudos to your Dad. Thank you.

  20. iainmulholland

    When I was serving in the British military i had the honor of parachuting into Normandy on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day and then spending the next several days being given tours around the Normandy battlefields by some veterans. It was amazing to hear the stories of the fighting in and around the hedgerows and of the glider borne assault on Pegasus Bridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…But what i found truly amazing was that these guys were in their early twenties when they were doing this. One of the vets commanded a Brigade of 5,000 paratroopers on D-Day – at the age of 26. Talk about lessons in leadership…. just think about what you were doing at age 26….

    1. JLM

      I had the great pleasure of hearing the story from John Howard himself. It was really quite inspiring.The single fact that sticks in my mind about Howard is that Howard had been a Regimental Sgt Major when he went to OCS.Remember the troops who took Pegasus Bridge landed by glider though they were from an airborne unit.I was in the American combat engineers and we discussed the amount of explosives necessary to take the bridges (Pegasus and Horsa up the canal) out.

  21. JLM

    The story of D Day is an awesome story of American logistical. leadership and planning genius. It is a uniquely American tale of reluctant triumph.Eisenhower, that most ordinary of men, rose to the challenge in extraordinary circumstances in planning Overlord and then as a 5-star General, NATO Commander, President of Columbia University and President.Imagine a soldier as President who kept the US out of war for 8 years, balanced 8 straight budgets, built the American nuclear arsenal and initiated the Interstate Highway system.When one questions the greatness of America or whether we stand for good in the fight against evil, one only has to think about Normandy where America confronted and vanquished the greatest evil ever loosed on earth.And, having wrested Europe from the tenacles of Nazism what did we ask for in return?Enough ground to bury our dead.If that does not make you proud to be an American, then you have no soul.

    1. William Mougayar

      Well said JLM.

  22. goldwerger

    The final scene of Saving Private Ryan is the most powerful movie ending of any I’ve ever seen. “Tell me I have led a good life… Tell me I am a good man…”. We are obligated to remember the sacrifice of the dead, and the privilege of living.

  23. JLM

    Fabulous post.

  24. msuster

    When I lived in Europe we vacationed in Normandy quite a bit often basing ourselves in Deauville. We toured all of the war beaches and also went over to Caen Memorial http://www.sacred-destinati… which is a WWII museum. If you can get over there it’s worthwhile. Also, there are several Michelin star restaurants in Caen (when we were there one had 2 stars) and all are comparatively cheaper than Paris. Enjoy! Oh, and if you haven’t been to Honfleur it is also beautiful.

  25. andyidsinga

    Good of you to mention the Canadian contribution.

    1. JLM

      Colonel Hans von Luck — a Nazi bastard in my view — wrote a very well read memoir of his experiences fighting the Canadians in the vicinity of Normandy. He was quite complimentary of the quality of the Canadian forces particularly their armor.von Luck was convicted after the war by the Canadians for having executed a number of Canadian soldiers in his control. He was in command but did not actually pull the trigger.He was sentenced to death and had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. I think he was imprisoned in Nova Scotia.He was ultimately released and was more than a bit of an unrepentant Nazi sympathisizer having served in the Waffen SS armor.The book is Panzer Commander.Everybody who has ever been around the Canadian army notes the fitness and rugged nature of their soldiers — must be that lumberjack gene pool.It would be fair to say that the Canadians have been America’s best and most consistent allies. Plus at times, we even speak the same language.

  26. Senith @ MBA tutor

    Amazing! Its always moving to read about the WW and what it took to win the war. The ‘What ifs’ can be truly scary! Tributes to the army cannot be overdone. What ever be our position on the current wars, we must also show our appreciation to the individuals in the current military when ever we get a chance if nothing else just to encourage them. I always take a minute to shake hands and say that we appreciate their service when I see someone in uniform on a flight or on the street.

  27. MBA tutor

    One other point – Hacking education team please note – It’s interesting that Josh learnt about this through games.We tutor business school students through case studies. This is probably the equivalent of case studies at the junior and high school levels! All the what ifs can be played out and the engagement levels of students kept at peak levels!Senith

  28. David Rosenthal

    One of my earliest memories as a child is visiting the Normandy beaches with my parents. Though I was only 3 or 4 at the time, I still remember being incredibly moved at seeing the battlefields and my parents explaining what had happened there. It truly is a hallowed place everyone should try to visit at some point in their lives.

  29. William Mougayar

    Never a dull moment on this blog. From VC history to retracing the face of history. Tomorrow’s MBA Monday is going to feel dull compared to this post.

    1. fredwilson

      i hope not, just posted it

      1. William Mougayar

        I was tongue and cheek. I don’t think there’s been a dull post since I’ve started reading it 2 years ago 🙂

  30. James O'Connor

    Fred, thanks for the great post. The pictures speak volumes. I only hope I can make it out there in the near future and experience the same awe.On top of that, the comments have been almost more enjoyable to read. I’m a huge WWII history buff. I’ve read countless books, played all of the games, and watch shows on the History Channel whenever I have the chance. There were some pretty amazing statistics listed throughout the comments that really speak volumes about the intellect we have hanging around here.Communities like this are great and this is the perfect example why.

  31. sbepstein

    Fred,Thank you for sharing a very moving description of your family visit to Normandy.I would love to eventually take my 2 sons, 10 and 14 there.My mother, (soon to be turning 90) was a US Army nurse for that battle.A four foot eleven, 23 year old Army captain.She spent all of 1943 , treating the wounded of the US Army Air Corps B-17 bomber crews.So she had a one year nightmare jump on June of 44.She landed in Normandy , D plus 4, so June 10th.She said that beach was still red, and the dead were still lining the beach at the high tide mark. And dead from the battles inland , were brought to the sandbar as well.She still can’t talk about it , with out breaking down crying.Her unit followed Patton’s HQ from the liberation of Paris to Berlin. And then her unit was assigned to liberated concentration camps in Germany, and encampments of German soldiers returning from the East.And she stayed in Germany for a year, with the Army Corps assigned to Nuremberg for the trials.About 5000++ Army nurses did the 2 to 3 year endurance of treating thousands of US, French, German, Dutch, Belgian wounded.Since she enlisted right after Pearl Harbor, maybe 200 to 250 of her officer class became captains and majors and served the US wounded from UK based Air Corps bases all the way across Western Europe to Berlin.She and those 5000 women endured torrents of blood, pain, and death for months on end.Regarding desiring a Tom Hanks movie…She told me her nurses team in London was better than the “League of her own” re-enactment. She played 3rd base and batted first.(grin)Steve

  32. marfi

    You are s oright about your son, I can’t wait to see the day in which university exams will be taken entirely on information learned from games, after all we spent so many hours playing them. A masterpiece TED talk is here to support this: http://bit.ly/aY19vj Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world.

  33. RichardF

    This post could easily be posted under hacking education Fred. I am sure it’s something that Josh will long remember.As a teenager my parents took me on trips to Normandy and the Somme, both of which are engraved in my mind. It is my intention to do the same with my son along with a visit to Auschwitz.I’m sure that it is those trips along with the stories of five of my uncles who served on the front line in WW2 including Arnhem and the D-Day landings that has given me the strong sense of duty to remembrance. We always try to attend a Remembrance Day service as a family. I am always in awe and forever in debt to those Allied soldiers who gave their lives in WW1 and 2. These were ‘ordinary’ men and women and it serves to remind me that nobody is ‘ordinary’.

    1. fredwilson


  34. Avi Deitcher

    Fred, beautiful post, truly brings it to life. Personally, John Keegan is one of my favourite authors, and walking Pickett’s Charge in Gettysburg or standing on Breed’s Hill in Charleston, MA is truly awe-inspiring (I also served in the Armored Corps).I find the comments here especially fascinating. I have always been inspired by military history and its impact on world development, but have found myself in a very small minority. Yet, it appears that many commenters are similar students of military history. Particularly, since I assume most followers are startup-related people, is there a correlation between interest in these areas and entrepreneurs/entrepreneurial activity?For those who enjoy counterfactuals, there is an amazing book called, “What If?” http://www.amazon.com/What-

  35. Michael B. Aronson

    Fred, great post as always. A number of years ago we took my father-in-law who landed there D Day plus something and fought his way across Europe. He had never wanted to ever see it again as he knew what memories would come back but decided he wanted to after the events of the 50th anniversery of the landing. It was pretty indescribable to wander the cemetery there seeking the graves of his friends who never made it back especially since it was a cold windswept March day. Our daughters were with us but they were too young to appreciate it at that time.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Fighting his way across Europe…and returning to face those painful memories…both display your father-in-law’s bravery.

  36. JimHirshfield

    Nice one. What else is on your “bucket list”?

  37. Elie Seidman

    Freedom is not free it turns out.

  38. David Markowitz

    Great post…reminds me of my post-college Euro trip a little after the 40th anniversary. The one day I still remember was the day I spent by myself biking to Omaha, Point du Hoc, the US cemetery, the local musuems, etc….something everyone should see. All the locals I met and stayed w/i in Normandy were some of the nicest I came across.The single image that still sticks w/me though was when pulling over and stopping at a Brit/Canadian cemetery, wandering through a bit and seeing the name of an allied soldier w/the same birthday as me. That single date really struck me, and made me realize how fortunate I was to be born when I was, and that folks like my dad fought when they did.

  39. Margaret Johnson

    Awesome to hear you are an Army Bratt. Me too. Puts a different spin on this blog post for me. Also – I loved the comment your son made regarding learning through games. While we are starting to tap gaming in education, it has been done poorly. Imagine IF video games were as important in education as the text book? It is indeed possible. And considering children spend 18.4% (ONLY) of their days in school, what an opportunity to develop these amazing minds.

  40. Donna Brewington White

    Thank you, Fred. Quite moving. I’m in a place without internet access for much of this week but stole away down the mountain to a Starbucks to get a bit of work done and ended up reading this fascinating post and many of the comments. Will definitely have my 15 y.o. military-enamored son read this.

  41. Thankyoumassman

    Fred,If you’re looking for a fantastic meal, try the restaurant at the Hôtel le Lion d’Or, 71 rue Saint-Jean – 14400 Bayeux.My wife and dined there several years ago. It was amazing.MassMan

  42. paramendra

    “…and Josh said, “wow, they really nailed this in Call Of Duty.” ….”:-)Looks like you have permanently moved over to Europe.:-)

    1. fredwilson

      Not permanently. But I try to spend a month here in the summer. I did thatwith only one weeklong trip back to the states for board meetings. We have anumber of businesses located here or with significant operations here

  43. kidcroesus

    I did that trip myself a few years back, before the George W years. One of the best trips I ever took. If you haven’t tried some Normandy Calvados yet, you absolutely should.

    1. fredwilson

      Had a glass every night after dinner

  44. Karol Piotrowski

    Hi Fred,I usually stroll by for your great MBA posts, but this one is a great one too. Good to read a nice piece of respectful writing. Unfortunately, for the people in Poland, the help never managed to come from the west – as usual we were just a small piece of cake that was shared between the big ones of this world.Nonetheless, 1st of August marks for us as well a tragic, yet most important, event in recent history: the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. A lot of info on the web has been put online by a foundation from California: http://www.warsawuprising.comWe all owe a lot to the people who died for freedom on all the fronts, yet obviously it was already big politics that was running the war in 1944 and 1945 – I guess more concentrated on the future decades of the Cold War than actual situation…Thanks for a nice post and good discussions in the comments to everyoneKarol, Poland

  45. Geoffrey Vitt

    The summer before leaving for college I went to France and made the drive from Brittany up to Normandy (my father had insisted) and as an 18 year old, visiting many of the exact spots you mentioned in your post, I was amazed at the surge of emotions (pride, appreciation, sadness, etc.) that I felt. I felt like I “knew the world” at that time and this was a quick jolt of reality that I didn’t and still don’t know much of anything.I can’t wait to go back, hopefully with my father. Thanks for the post.