After two years of Covid restrictions, Emma was glad to return to Normandy. She sang for several American, British, and French ceremonies.
The week begin with a ceremony at the C-47 memorial, which commemorates the twenty young U.S. soldiers who died in a plane crash on 6th June, 1945. The memorial was opened last year: it is a beautiful garden near Picauville and the design invites you to reflect on their losses.
On 5th June, Emma sang for the Spirit of Normandy Trust in Colleville Montgomery, at the statue of Field Marshall Montgomery. It was lovely to see some familiar faces there. Viscount Henry Montgomery, the grandson of Bernard, gave a speech to the veterans in which he said that “Grandad… would have been proud of you.” Emma led the hymns and sang with the Jedburgh Pipe Band.
The Midnight Ceremony at Pegasus Bridge on 5th June is a beautiful occasion, led by the daughter of Major John Howard, the leader of the glider pilots who landed in the night of 5th June to secure Pegasus Bridge and the bridge over the Orne. There was a short speech and then we listened to a recording of Major Howard recollecting the journey across the channel and the landings. Afterwards, we toasted the soldiers.
On 6th June, Emma joined the Band of the Yorkshire Regiment to support the ceremony of the Royal British Legion in CWGC Bayeux cemetery. Veterans played a central role in the ceremony, reading poetry, bible readings, and the Act of Remembrance.
In the afternoon of 6th June, Emma headed to Arromanches, from where the pontoons are still visible in the sea, to sing during a ceremony at the D-Day 75 Garden. She sang the melody of Gibbon’s haunting madrigal “The Silver Swan” before the Act of Remembrance. The ceremony ended with a spectacular fly over by the French Air Force, complete with red, white, and blue smoke.
On 7th June, Emma sang in the pretty village of Grangues. There were two ceremonies: one for the Canadian airmen who died in a plane crash near the village, and the other for the French residents who died in the wars, both as military and civilians. The Canadian part of the ceremony was led by Dutch priest Marcus Vankan. British veterans traveling with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans attended both ceremonies, and Emma joined them for lunch afterwards and performed a mini-prom to honour the Queen’s Jubilee.
In the evening, Emma sang in Caens City Hall, a magnificent former monastery, for the U.S. Veterans traveling with Best Defense Foundation. Their trip was sponsored by Delta Airlines, who chartered a flight from Georgia to Deauville especially for the commemorations, and by Michelin. It was a beautiful dinner, in which there was an open microphone so the veterans could share stories about their lives and their experiences. It was a deep honour to be part of the event and to meet the veterans who had travelled so very far, both for the commemorations and to fight for our freedom back in 1945.