D-Day Remembrance on 65th Anniversary: USA, UK, Canada, & France
Normandy American Cemetery Superintendent Daniel NeeseTo me, it’s the last moment we may be able to pay honor to these gutsy, confident, courageous men — in person — who sacrificed and prevailed on the 6th of June 1944 and also during the Normandy campaign
Saturday marks 65 years ago that the D-Day landings began on June 6, 1944, marking the final stage of the Allied campaign to defeat Nazi Germany.
US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and UK Prince of Wales joined France President Nicholas Sarkozy to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of D-Day.
73,000 Americans, 21,400 Canadians, 61,715 British troops landed on five beaches on the French coast alongside a number of Australians and Free French commandos, to begin the liberation of Europe.
The operation was the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with 160,000 troops landing on June 6, 1944. There were also 195,700 allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships. The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel, includes the graves of 9,387 U.S. soldiers who died in connection with the invasion, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The 172 acres contained the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. The site also contained graves of Air Force crews shot down over France since 1942.
The names of 1,557 Americans who lost their lives during the conflict, but whose remains could not be found and identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the Memorial.
The graves face west toward the United States of America.
This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.
The cemetery is located on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach, one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion, and the English Channel. It covers 70 ha (172 acres), and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. The graves face westward, toward the United States.
The names of 1,557 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict but could not be located and/or identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the memorial.
President Obama would be addressing an invited crowd of 9,000 including 2,000 Americans to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of D-Day and the United States role in ending the Nazi occupation of Europe. Other speakers would be U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
It is a tradition for American presidents to visit the landing beaches at Normandy where the June 6, 1944, invasion by U.S., British, Canadian and other troops began a rollback of the Nazi war machine entrenched in Western Europe and helped end World War Two the following year.
Ronald Reagan went to the D-Day beaches on the 40th anniversary in 1984, Bill Clinton was there in 1994 for the 50th and George W. Bush was there in 2002, and in 2004 for the 60th anniversary commemoration.
President Obama's great uncle, Charles Payne, age 84, is also in attendance on this 65th Anniversary. He was a private in the US Army's 89th Infantry Division during World War II. Mr. Charles Payne is the younger brother of the US President's grandmother, Madelyn Payne.
Obama's great-uncle, Charlie Payne, 84 and frail but among the liberators of the Buchenwald camp complex the president visited in central Germany, will join Obama's party in Normandy.
It is a powerful reminder to Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who read this article that our collective admiration for the WW II soldiers combined with immense gratitude do not diminish as time marches on.
Normandy American Cemetery Superintendent Daniel Neese said he has heard more than 100 D-Day veterans will attend this year’s anniversary.
Given the veterans’ ages and the associated physical hardships of traveling to France, this year’s event is "very important," Neese said.
"To me, it’s the last moment we may be able to pay honor to these gutsy, confident, courageous men — in person — who sacrificed and prevailed on the 6th of June 1944 and also during the Normandy campaign," he said.
On the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, British and American Air Force flew over Omaha Beach in the missing man formation to honor all WW II veterans at the closing of the ceremony.
During a 21-gun salute, smoke rose from a section of Omaha Beach once more on Saturday. The military men and women in the crowd, the young sailors in crisp black uniforms, and the aging veterans with their war medals, brought their hands to salute for the playing of “Taps” and a flyover of British, French and American fighter jets.
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