Hallowed Ground in Normandy at Colleville-Sur-Mer
As you stand atop the cliff at Colleville-Sur-Mer, marble crosses and Stars of David stretch as far as the eye can see. There were 4,414 Americans who died on D-Day. Almost all are buried at Colleville-sur-Mer. In total, more than 9,000 Americans are buried at the Normandy American Cemetery, having died in the waves of troops that came ashore on June 6, 1944, and the many days and weeks after.
Covering 172 acres, the cemetery was dedicated just after World War II. Though it’s often assumed to be, it is not considered American soil. Devoted French volunteers tend to the graves, place flowers, and place American flags on July 4 and Memorial Day. Visitors can sometimes be lucky enough to be part of the flag-lowering at the end of the day, when Taps is played. Wreath-laying must be pre-arranged but is gladly done.
|Our Tours of Colleville-Sur-Mer from Paris:|
American Normandy D-Day Tour from Paris
D-Day Tour with Overnight in Bayeux and Mont St. Michel
Custom and Private Normandy D-Day Tours
Unlike at the German and British Cemeteries, the age of the dead is not displayed on each headstone. It is known, however. The average age was 22. A featured part of the cemetery is an enormous marble wall inscribed with the names of the missing, some 1557 men whose remains were never found.
Though the visitor center is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day, the cemetery is otherwise open to anyone who wishes to pay their respects. Luminaries buried there include Medal of Honor winners Jimmy Monteith, a First Lieutenant who tirelessly rallied stunned troops and tanks to penetrate the German line behind the dunes on June 6, and Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Perhaps the saddest graves are those of the 33 sets of brothers who died freeing France from the grip of the German army.
Anyone who visits this cemetery comes away with a solemn respect for the troops and for the heavy, but necessary, cost of defeating Hitler during World War II.
To find individual graves at Colleville-Sur-Mer (or any American Military Cemetery) visit the American Battle Monuments Commission website. If visiting a relatives grave please let us (if you’ve booked a tour to Normandy with us at Link Paris) or the ABMC know in advance.
Visiting the Normandy American Cemetery from Paris
We offer a variety of tours from Paris to the Normandy American cemetery. Trips are available year-round and highly recommended if visiting Paris from the United States.