COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — Silent salutes, tears and displays of international friendship have marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in a ceremony on the beaches of Normandy.
French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH’ oh-LAWND’) told the handful of surviving veterans in attendance, “Thank you for having been here in the summer of ’44.”
Earlier in the day, he joined President Barack Obama in paying tribute to U.S. soldiers buried at the Normandy American Cemetery, saying “long live the memory of those who fell here for our liberty.”
Not many of the 150,000 Allied soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy or who parachuted into the region 70 years ago today are still alive. But some of the survivors stood alongside Obama and the French president as they paid tribute to history’s biggest amphibious invasion.
Hollande said, “France will never forget what it owes these soldiers.”
Obama — speaking at a site he called “democracy’s beachhead” — said America’s commitment to liberty, equality and freedom is “written in blood on these beaches.”
198-w-38-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent, with President Barack Obama)–On the beaches of Normandy, President Obama has been honoring allied heroes on the 70th anniversary of D-Day — and also meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports. ((cut opens with sound)) (6 Jun 2014)
203-a-08-(Oscar Peterson, 92-year-old D-Day veteran, 2nd Infantry Division, in AP interview)-“to be alive”-92-year-old D-Day veteran Oscar Peterson, of the 2nd Infantry Division, says he was scared on D-Day. (6 Jun 2014)
202-a-15-(Jack Schlegel, 91-year-old D-Day veteran, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in AP interview)-“of my body”-91-year-old D-Day veteran Jack Schlegel says he’s made it back to France for the 40th, 50th, 60th and, now, the 70th anniversaries of D-Day. (6 Jun 2014)
APPHOTO REB162: US President Barack Obama, left, and French President Francois Hollande look out over Omaha beach during a joint French-US D-Day commemoration ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-mer, Normandy, France, Friday June 6, 2014, marking the 70th anniversary of the World War II Allied landings in Normandy. (AP Photo/Alain Jocard, pool) (6 Jun 2014)
APPHOTO XCE113: French President Francois Hollande, left, greets U.S. President Barack Obama during the D-Day commemoration at the Ouistreham beach, western France, Friday, June 6, 2014. World leaders and veterans gathered by the beaches of Normandy on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of World War II D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool) (6 Jun 2014)
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