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Southport, Manitoba, Canada
Steve Pomroy is a professional flight instructor and aviation writer. He has been teaching since 1995 and holds an Airline Transport Pilot License, Class 1 Instructor and Aerobatic Instructor Ratings, military QFI, and an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. He's written and published three flight training books through his company, SkyWriters Publishing, and has several other books under development. Steve currently teaches RCAF pilot candidates on their Primary Flight Training course.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Armastice Day

In 2005, I took a trip to France just a week or so before Armistice Day. The trip was for myself and two coworkers to receive training in a software package called CATIA. But we went a week early so that we could vacation a little and see the country. When we first arrived, we went our separate ways, and then met up again in Paris a week later for our course.

My wife and I went to Normandy. We stayed in Bayeaux and toured around from there. One of the major attractions of Normandy, of course, is the D-Day beaches. We got to visit Omaha, Utah, and Juno, but missed out on Gold. Juno, of course, was of particular interest, because it’s where the Canadians came ashore. At both Juno and Omaha, I stood in the water and looked inland to see what the soldiers saw. At Omaha, it was a vast flat beach with no cover. At Juno, it was a steep sea wall close to the beach. In either case, I wouldn’t want to have to make the crossing with a bunch of angry machine gunners on the other side.

There are plenty of preserved memories of the war. These include naval barges that were sunk in shallow water to create mini-islands and give landing craft some cover, concrete bunkers used as part of the German defenses, and giant craters created by naval artillery meant to suppress German defenses.

Looking at the area now, you’d never say that it was once the scene of such violence. It is beautiful and peaceful there. It’s the kind of place I’d like to retire to someday.

One thing that surprised me was how many German people were there to see the sights. Of course, Germany is right next-door to France, so it really shouldn’t have been that surprising. But it was. Several of them seemed very regretful over the war. One older gentleman (not old enough to be a veteran, but older than me, perhaps a child during the war) mentioned that he visited these beaches regularly to remind himself that "we must never let this happen again".

Sure enough, the preserved evidence of the violence is very convincing. As peaceful as the area is now, there’s enough information available, and enough preserved scarring, to convince anyone that we can do without a repeat. So today, take a moment to remember those who put themselves at risk, some of whom paid the ultimate price, to preserve and protect our way of life. Then take a moment to remember those currently serving in Afghanistan.

Happy Flying!

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