Surviving Spouse Corner: Honoring D-Day With a Cruise to Remember

Surviving Spouse Corner: Honoring D-Day With a Cruise to Remember
Passengers on a MOAA Vacations Signature Cruise to Normandy, France, last month prepare to cast white roses into the Seine River as part of a D-Day remembrance ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

On June 6, I had the pleasure and honor of being present on the beach in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. We were there to pay homage to all our servicemembers who paid the ultimate price that fateful day and to recognize all who fought so hard.


I experienced this memorable event as a passenger on a MOAA Signature Cruise, traveling on the Seine River from Paris to Normandy. This cruise, organized by MOAA Vacations, was designed specifically for MOAA members, family, and friends. The attention to detail — from food to sights — set this MOAA cruise apart from other cruises I have taken.


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MOAA Vacations - Normandy 2024 (June 2-9)


I had not realized how much I missed the military camaraderie until I was shoulder-to-shoulder with the elite of the elite. Approximately 200 uniformed services veterans, spouses, surviving spouses, and guests were on this cruise. Military service was our common thread: The war stories that were as fresh as the day they happened, the acronyms DoD personnel used to confuse the enemy, and hearing over and over, “Where did you serve?” when meeting someone for the first time.


The visit to the beaches of Normandy, without a doubt, was cathartic for many of us. A quiet reverence overcame our group just knowing we stood where the carnage took place 80 years ago. Beautiful monuments have been erected to honor the military personnel who fought there and their memory. One was engraved with the following message: “To the memory of the heroic dead of the 90th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, 6 June 1944-9 May 1945.”


MOAA Vacations - Normandy 2024 (June 9-16)


Back on board the ship, we shared our thoughts about our experience with our old and new friends. To cap it off in a style for which our military is famous, we had an impactful ceremony on the upper deck spearheaded by MOAA Board Chairman Gen. Gary L. North, USAF (Ret). His focus was on those who gave their lives for peace. He honored their memory with the eloquence of his heartfelt words.


The ceremony ended with taps, and we then each tossed a white rose in the Seine. Those 200 white roses floating in the water signified the deep connections we have with our fallen military. It was a trip and experience I will remember forever.


I, along with three friends, have already signed up for the MOAA Cruise for a Cause 2025: Burgundy and Provence, Lyon to Arles, Sept. 14-21, 2025. Proceeds from this cruise support the uniformed services and veterans communities through MOAA Charities. I hope you will join me!


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About the Author

Nora Durham
Nora Durham

Nora Durham is a member of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council.