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Like all other beaches, Omaha Beach had sand, rocks, and water. But this beach was different. This one had a history. Last summer I went to Paris, France for a seven-day trip with my whole family, and we experienced all of the traditional tourist sites of Paris. Some of my favorites were the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc De Triomphe, but the part I was most excited for was our day trip to a region 2 hours outside of Paris, called Normandy. Visiting Normandy allowed me to learn about World War II and America’s opposition to the Nazis.

When Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazis in the 1930’s and 1940’s, his aim was to conquer all of Europe. At the same time, the Nazis also led an effort to kill millions of European Jews in the Holocaust. The German military began conquering different parts of Europe, including France, and they built bunkers and army bases to defend their territory. In 1944, England and the US joined together to try to free the French from German control. With help from other allies like Canada and England, the U.S. devised a plan called Operation Overlord in which they aimed to attack Nazi armies in France. Once Germany successfully took over France, they used the bunkers to store ammunition. Our family toured one bunker into which a Nazi soldier carelessly loaded ammo, setting off a bomb in the bunker and destroying it. 

The importance of Omaha Beach is that it was the destination of England and the US when they were attacking Germany. They put out misleading signals to make the Germans think that an attack was going to happen elsewhere in France. But really, on June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 soldiers landed on the beach, and caught the Nazis by surprise. They had to confront seasickness and overcome wind and poor weather conditions to make it onto the shore and then had to run onto the beach to fight the German soldiers. The bravery they had to show will always stick with me, and I am grateful for all that they did for our country.  Though many died that day, it was a turning point in the war. As President Barack Obama said, “So much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide." 

Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, is a popular tourist destination because of its extensive history. While we were there we saw many plaques, memorials, cannons, and even toured a cemetery where many of the soldiers who were killed are buried. But for me, the time I spent on the beach in Normandy will be an experience I will always remember.

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