In one week in Normandy, you still see more American flags, proudly flown, than you might in any other place in the world; from individual homes that line the beaches and villages of the coastline of the invasion, to the official sites, memorials and shrines, cemeteries, and even churches.

The price paid in American blood for French freedom is what these flags represent on this foreign soil. The residents of Normandy died too; civilians and villages paid the price in the Allied assault and advance.

It’s not forgotten that America remained for the rebuild and recovery. The gratitude remains even now.

At passport control, as I headed back to Texas, I was asked why and where I’d been this week.“In Normandy,” I replied, “My Dad was at Utah Beach.” Just a few feet away, another young agent jumped up. A native of Normandy, maybe 30 years old, he looked me straight in the eye and sincerely said, “Thank you.”

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