Situated above Omaha Beach, a place where the American military suffered staggering casualties on D-Day, the American cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer contains the remains of nearly 10,000 servicemen who died during the Normandy campaign. With marble crosses and Stars of David stretching as far as the eye can see, the cemetery is a solemn, breathtaking experience that all Americans should share.
Omaha Beach is accessible from the cemetery atop the bluffs. The World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is situated on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel in the village of Colleville-sur-Mer, France. It is just east of St. Laurent-sur-Mer and northwest of Bayeux about one hundred and seventy miles west of Paris. The cemetery is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, that was established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II.
The cemetery is at the north end of a one half mile access road and covers one hundred and seventy-two acres. It contains the graves of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom gave their lives during the landings and ensuing operations of World War II. On the walls of the semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial are inscribed the names of 1,557 American missing who gave their lives in the service of their country during the D-Day invasion, but whose remains were not located or identified. The memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing maps and narratives of the military operations. At the center is a bronze statue titled, "Spirit of American Youth." The average age of the dead at Normandy was twenty two.
An orientation table overlooks the beach and depicts the landings at Normandy. Facing west at the memorial, one sees in the foreground the reflecting pool, the mall with burial areas to either side and the circular chapel beyond. Behind the chapel are statues representing the United States and France bonded through sacrifice.
Ready to visit the D-Day landing beaches in person? We offer three ways to visit Normandy from Paris:
Interactive Map of Colleville-Sur-Mer:
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