To have returned to Normandy after 70 years is indescribable. But I shall attempt to share my emotional Sentimental Journey with you.
At first, it was with deep reluctance that I agreed to return with the D-Day 70 Memorial Wind Band. When four of my children agreed to accompany me, along with musicians with whom I had worked through the years, I felt confident that I had the support system that I needed to make this incredible trip.
The concert in Paris was superb. The mayor and his staff and the audience were ecstatic with our performance. Playing the concert at St. Laurent sur mer on Omaha Beach was, in reality, a tribute to the more than 2000 men who gave their last full measure of devotion at that location. I was so very proud of the D-Day 70 Band’s outstanding performance. I was choked with emotion with the band’s playing of HYMN TO THE FALLEN…and along with some of the band, shed a few tears.
The wreath, with the 29th Infantry Division ribbon, that John Wiscombe and Véronique Perrault-Bauer provided and was placed at the Peace Memorial, was another amazing highlight of the trip.
My heartfelt gratitude goes to my friends in the D-Day Memorial Wind Band and to the dedicated staff of Music Celebrations International.
I shall cherish and treasure the memories of this trip for the rest of my life.
Arnald D. Gabriel Colonel USAF (ret)
Conductor Emeritus the United States Air Force Band