OMAHA BEACH, France (Reuters) – Western leaders and ageing veterans gather on the shores of France on Thursday in a second day of events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied amphibious assault that opened the way for western Europes liberation from Hitlers forces.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II gives her speech durning an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. Chris Jackson/Pool via Reuters
An hour after sunrise, at 07:26 a.m., a lone piper will play atop the remnants of an artificial harbour built in the waters off Arromanches to resupply the invasion force, to mark the precise moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.
Later, French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May will attend events along the 80-km (50-mile) stretch of Normandy coast where more than 150,000 troops landed under a hail of artillery and machine-gun fire.
Macron evoked the spirit of D-Day to speak on Wednesday of the modern need for multilateralism and international cooperation, an area where the United States and its European allies have been increasingly at odds during Trumps administration.
“These allied forces that together freed us from the German yoke, and from tyranny, are the same ones that were able to build the existing multilateral structures after World War Two,” Macron told reporters after an event in Normandy to honour the French Resistance.
“We must not repeat history, and remind ourselves what was built on the basis of the war.”
The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, a feat months in the planning and kept secret from Nazi Germany despite a huge trans-Atlantic mobilisation of industry and manpower.
In blustery winds in the early hours of June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied paratroopers jumped behind Germanys coastal defences. Then, as day broke, warships pounded German positions before hundreds of landing craft disgorged the infantry troops.
Survivors recall the sea being red with blood. Thousands were killed on both sides on the beaches, codenamed Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha by the Allies.
Lines of white marble crosses on the clifftop above Omaha Beach today mark the resting place of more than 9,380 U.S. soldiers who died during the landings and ensuing operations.
Here, Trump will watch Macron award the Legion dHonneur, Frances highest award for merit, to five U.S. veterans before the two presidents leave for a working lunch in nearby Caen.
On the south coast of England, Britains Queen Elizabeth led presidents and prime ministers on Wednesday in paying tribute to surviving D-Day veterans and their fallen comrades.
“The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten,” the 93-year-old monarch said. “It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country – indeed the whole free world – that I say to you all: thank you.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the sacrifice of tens of thousands of soldiers in a military operation that brought freedom from National Socialism to Germany.
“That I, as German chancellor, can be here today, that today we stand together for peace and freedom, is a gift from history that must be cared for and protected,” she said.
Trump read a prayer spoken by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, capping a three-day stateRead More