LINDSIDE, W.Va. — Junior ROTC students at James Monroe High School will travel to Normandy Wednesday for ceremonies involving the 71st Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion.

The 18 cadets will be the only group from West Virginia that will represent the state in the memorial parade. The JROTC was able to raise $54,000 to make the trip. Lt. Col. Scott Womack, the Senior Army Instructor at James Monroe, was thankful for generous contributions that made the trip possible. He said students had to research the historical event to be considered.

“Any student that wanted to go had to do a research paper on some aspect of D-Day, and also do a class presentation on it,” Womack explained. “So they’re well-versed in the history of the operation.

Womack said that visiting the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer above Omaha Beach is an experience that has brought him to tears more than once.

“To stand on the ground and actually walk the terrain where the soldiers landed on the beaches and the paratroopers dropped, and to see the human cost of liberating Europe from the Nazis, being there is no replacement,” he said. “I’m sure the students will be as moved as I was.”

Womack said that the students will take part in a number of events in Normandy, including attending memorial concerts, taking part in parades, and touring museums. They’ll also get to see all of the beaches: Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword. They will be able to tour some of Paris as well.

“They’ll tour the Louvre,” Womack said. “They’ll see most of the Parisian sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral of Notre Dame”

Womack previously said that the 18 students were selected out of 80 cadets in the JROTC program at James Monroe. He thought the trip would not only be a great history lesson, but also a way for the students to learn about French culture.

The Allied Powers invaded Normandy beach on June 6, 1944. The D-Day invasion, also known as Operation Overlord, is the largest seaborne invasion in history and contributed to liberating France from Nazi control and an eventual Allied victory in World War II.