World leaders and veterans gathered by the beaches of Normandy under clear blue skies on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two\’s D-Day landings, with host France hoping the event will help bring a thaw in the Ukraine crisis.
In a speech at Omaha Beach on the coast of Normandy, France, Obama hailed the troops whom he said "gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril."
In his speech, President Obama praised the veterans who took part in D-Day for changing the course of human history, saying it is important their story is "seared into the memory of the future world."
Opening the ceremony, French President Francois Hollande also said the sacrifice of the soldiers "changed the world."
"We owe it to the memory of those who died for us, and we also owe it — with regards to the willingness of France — to be present everywhere, aware that it comes with a long history and that it still has a destiny to fulfill for the fate of the whole world," said Hollande.
housands of veterans are taking part in the ceremony in Normandy, where Allied troops landed on the beach in what was the largest sea assault in history.
Some veterans, including American Jim Martin of the 101st airborne, marked the occasion by holding a reenactment parachute jump on Thursday.
"Was it different?" a reporter asked him after making the jump.
"Oh yes, nobody shooting at me. It\’s much nicer," he replied.
Other veterans, most of whom now are in their 90s, observed the anniversary in a more relaxed manner, watching the sun rise at the beach Friday.
The D-Day invasion was a turning point in the war and paved the way for the liberation of Western Europe from German forces.
More than 150,000 troops parachuted or waded on to French soil on June 6, 1944.
About 5,000 allied soldiers died in the beach invasion and tens of thousands more would be killed in the subsequent battle to free the continent.
Source – Agencies