Normandy Churches Honor D-Day Paratroopers With Stained Glass Windows
Photo By Leon Neal/Getty Images

Normandy Churches Honor D-Day Paratroopers With Stained Glass Windows

Unfortunately, many lives are lost over the course of a war. However, the efforts of those who have died are felt for generations after they're gone. As France was occupied, paratroopers would drop from the sky. They seemed, to some, to be genuine superheroes. The account of a young Henri Jean Renaud would set the tone for how paratroopers were perceived at the time.

"We are really very devoted to the veterans," Renaud emphasized. "For me, when they landed, they were like heroes in a movie. Now, they are brothers."

Certainly, a few Normandy churches would indeed depict those brave D-Day soldiers in larger-than-life fashions.

To go even deeper into the connection between Normandy's churches and World War II veterans, it only seems fitting to talk about John Steele.

John Steele And Veterans' World War Two Impact In France

One dark, terrible night, the occupied town of Sainte Mere Eglise was in flames. The Germans had been there since June of 1940. A stray incendiary bomb from an air raid would threaten to wipe the town out.

On June 6, 1944, backlit by the fires, hundreds of American paratroopers filled the sky. John Steele, a seasoned combat veteran, was one of the unluckier paratroopers. As he was coming down, prepared to face German opposition, his parachute got caught in the steeple of the church in the middle of the town square.

Steele was shot through the foot, but through his pain, he pretended to be dead. The Germans cut him down and took him prisoner. When the cavalry in the form of tanks arrived, Steele made his escape, taking the fight directly to the Germans. Hours later, Sainte Mere Eglise became the first town in France to be liberated.

Sainte Mere Eglise would memorialize Steele as a soldier in the division that helped the liberation effort.

Paul Renaud, Henri's brother, would create a beautiful stained glass window dedicated to Steele and all the brave soldiers who fought to liberate Sainte Mere Eglise that day. It was one of the many ways the world would acknowledge veterans' efforts during World War Two and beyond.