Allied leaders to gather for D-Day commemoration ceremony in Normandy

June 6th, 2009 - 3:49 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Franco-American cafe manager Marc Gillingham and wife Maryse in Le Molay-Littry, in his cafe, before the official ceremonies commemorating landings on the beaches of Normandy begin Sixty-five years ago Britain and Europe awoke to the news that D-Day had finally come and the Normandy invasion was underway.

More than 150,000 allied troops supported by 6,939 naval vessels were storming the beaches or being parachuted into the northern coast of France in the first concerted attempt to fight back against Hitler’s German military.

For the people of France the liberation was something they had long waited for, however, with an estimated 10,000 allied casualties - either killed, wounded, missing, or captured – it came at a high price.

As the 65th commemoration of the day that changed the war got underway today, those who served on land, sea and in the air on that fateful day have returned.

The fit, lean bodies that so artfully strode through the waves and onto the beaches are older, more frail now, with many returnees needing assistance from wheelchairs and mobile walkers or canes as they retrace their path in history.

Tomorrow, June 6, world leaders from those countries that participated in the landing, including US president, Barack Obama, French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Britain’s Prince Charles, along with England Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will acknowledge the sacrifices made 65 years ago with a memorial service at a cliff-top US war cemetery.

Preceding and following the larger, public ceremonies, those who were there on that fateful day will move to towns and villages along the coast where French residents have shown they still remember the great sacrifice paid by the allied nations, warmly welcoming the aged returnees back.

Somber, private, semi-private and public ceremonies are being held in almost every village along the coast and friendships that have been maintained over the years renewed.

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