70 years later, Normandy transforms into popular tourist destina - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

70 years later, Normandy transforms into popular tourist destination

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  • 70 years later, Normandy transforms into popular tourist destinationMore>>

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WASHINGTON -

Normandy, France -- the site of the bloody D-Day battle -- is one of the great historic regions of France. 70 years later, it is one of the more popular tourist destinations in that country. Going there is a living history lesson no matter what age you are.

“You can actually see where it happened and it’s more interesting than learning it from a few thousand miles away,” said David Panner.

He traveled to Normandy last summer with his family. They saw in person the things they would only see in pictures and on film.

Those familiar images have new perspective now that David and his family have walked the beaches and seen the bunkers.

“The bunkers we went to were significant to the battle,” David told us. “They had batteries so you could see what the Germans used in battle.”

The beaches of Normandy were ground zero for the massive D-Day operation that began on June 6, 1944. It resulted in the deaths of at least 3,000 American soldiers.

Today, there are tours allowing you to relive D-Day by riding in a World War II Jeep or parachute in over the D-Day beaches. Those bloody beaches are now replaced with family journeys.

“It starts to become an adventure and patriotic event rather than just a memory of the hard fighting and sacrifice of the war,” said Ronald Spector, a professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University.

He said the initial reaction to the battles at Normandy were loss and grief. But over the years, that has transformed into pride over what was accomplished there. Much of the transformation was prompted by the blockbuster movies and books.

“Every generation writes its own history,” Spector said.

And that has helped drive tourism.

“You will go for one purpose and you will discover something else you were not expecting,” said Anne Laure Tuncer, Director of A-Tout France’s Tourism Development Agency.

She grew up in Normandy and said just being in a place of such history takes you back in time.

“They did an amazing job in keeping this alive to allow people to understand what happened and how it shaped the world,” said Tuncer.

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