D-Day Commemorations Begin as Veterans Feel Left Out
Tomorrow marks the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and fewer and fewer veterans of the invasion are around to commemorate.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is hosting ceremony at the American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, the site of the Allied forces' first foothold onto Nazi-occupied Western Europe.
Prince Charles and Gordon Brown will attend a commemoration ceremony alongside the French and US presidents.
It seems that interest grows a bit each year to get these stories told while it's still possible to do so. There's also a pushback against the political grandstanding which surrounds events such as this, with veterans feeling that they've become incidental to what's become a sort of show. The schoolbook history is one of nations and armies, but in terms of living history, individual stories are all that truly remain.
About 800 veterans of the Normandy campaign will attend what is expected to be last such gathering ever held on the soil they liberated.
"They fired on us, but we took them out," says Marr, 91. The Arlington, Va., retired colonel is in Normandy again this week telling tales of combat where it happened to participants in an annual tour organized by the New Orleans-based National World War II Museum.
Waves rushed over his head, knocking him under water, as he struggled to the shores of Normandy. Like many soldiers who were part of the D-Day invasion, Albert Piper couldn't swim.
As the surviving veterans get older and travel grows more difficult, they speak of disbanding their association.
Ernest Chambers, 83, from Norwich, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, said: "It means everything. It is a pilgrimage, it will probably be the last."