Veterans and world leaders commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy

VER-SUR-MER (France) (Reuters), Thursday, June 6, 2014 marks the 80th anniversary since the D-Day landings in France, where more than 150.000 Allied troops arrived by air and sea to expel the Nazi forces.

This year, with war raging on the borders of Europe, in Ukraine and elsewhere, the commemoration this major turning-point in World War Two has a special resonance.

This anniversary falls in an election year, with elections in Europe this week, the U.S. next month, and many others. Leaders will draw comparisons to World War II and warn against the dangers of extremism and isolationism.

Before he left for France, U.S. president Joe Biden declared that the sacrifices made during D-Day should not be forgotten.

This is probably the last big ceremony in Normandy to honour veterans in their presence. Many of them are over 100 years old.

Over 200 veterans will take part in ceremonies on the windswept beaches, which still bear the scars from the battles that erupted during D-Day. This was the largest amphibious invasion in history, and thousands of Allied troops died.

Bob Gibson, 101 years old, was part of the second wave to land on Utah Beach in Normandy.

It’s as if it happened yesterday. You would not believe what I’ve seen. Terrible. Some of the young people never made it to the main beach… “sometimes, it keeps you awake at night”, he told Reuters.

Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron and other dignitaries will be present at the day of tributes. The ceremony is scheduled to begin around 830 GMT in Ver-sur-Mer, with a British ceremony.

Russia, who launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine 2022, igniting Europe’s largest armed conflict since World War Two was not invited.

“Ukraine and its Allies, like France and other European countries, need the support of the Europeans to defeat Nazism,” said a European diplomat. He stressed that Zelenskiy’s presence was crucial.

The diplomat said that only Zelenskiy, and the few remaining veterans who are still alive today, know what war is.

The 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings was marked by Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.

Together with the leaders from France, Germany, and Ukraine, he established the now-defunct “Normandy format”, a contact group that was aimed at resolving conflict between Ukraine, and Russia. The focus of the group was the Donbas, and Crimea region.

The four of them no longer meet for high-level diplomacy together.

Some visitors, who were also paying their respects to the fallen soldiers of the U.S. Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, wished for peace as they paid homage to the graves of American soldiers.

Brigitte perdrix (66), from Trouville, said: “It is very moving to see so many young men buried here.” The atrocities and the wars that are currently taking place would be a tribute to these men. It would be as if a rose was placed on every grave.

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