The idea of World War II strikes a different chord with the people here. As the memories and real-life experiences of the men and woman  fade away with age, the memorials and grant founders seek out the individuals who aided in the war effort and their stories.

We went to the World War II Memorial of Caen yesterday with our friends Mary Elise and Louis. It was a brisk day, and we walked a long jaunt up and down the hills of the countryside to the outskirts of the city.

The memorial is something that you must first prepare yourself for utter sobriety.  After all, the war impacted the whole world. There were 50-70 million deaths as a result of World War II alone.

The museum is entered through a small, reflective door and beautiful entry-way in a long flat stucco façade, which symbolizes the Allies’ improbable breach of the “impregnable” Nazi Atlantic Wall. Inscribed in French across the façade are the verses: “Pain broke me; brotherhood lifted me. From my wound sprang a river of freedom.”

The Museum by Night

We saw so many interesting things here. Everything from the Vichy (think hard, all you Casablanca buffs!) to the Resistance to the Holocaust to the Cold War and beyond.  It was beautiful, horrifying, amazing and terrifying at the same time. I urge everyone to attend this place if you have the chance to do so.

Caen

This is what the city looked like circa 1944. Can you imagine coming back to your “home” and finding this?  Living here gives a person a whole new appreciation for what the American, Canadian, French and British GIs did for this country and the liberty of their own countries.

GIs outside of what may be present-day Eglise St. Pierre

After we left the memorial, we went to our friend Louis’ dorm where he made us the most amazing galettes we had ever tasted. I took diligent mental notes so when I return to the United States I can make them too. Get ready to have your culinary palate blown to smitereens because galettes are just that good.

Louis making Galettes

We had the regional cider (pronounced in French like “see-druh”) and enjoyed the awkward pauses that people who don’t share a fluent language usually do. It was a perfectly delightful evening.

God Bless France and the French!

If you want to learn more about the museum, visit the website here.

To learn how to make Galettes (but not Louis’ because he probably has a secret recipe), follow and bookmark this link.

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