D-Day 70th Anniversary: War dead honoured, Obama to address ceremony

Veterans and many dignitaries including President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II have started gathering at the beaches of Normandy to mark the grandoise 70th Annniversary, on Friday, of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord that changes course of the Second World War.

Updated: Jun 10, 2014, 10:28 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Yamini Maggo

Normandy: Veterans and many dignitaries including President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II have started gathering at the beaches of Normandy to mark the grandoise 70th Annniversary, on Friday, of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord that changes course of the Second World War.

World Leaders are all set to take the centrestage to honour the Allied D-Day veterans who risked and gave their lives to defeat Adolf Hitler`s Third Reich.

Ceremonies in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the cemeteries, beaches and stone-walled villages of Normandy, includind the one`s who actually took part in the largest sea invasion in history. They are expected to share their experience before they no longer have the chance to do so.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation Thursday designating June 6, 2014, as D-Day National Remembrance Day and is going to address on Friday morning.

Large and small ceremonies are taking place across Normandy. And it is further followed by an international summit on Friday in Ouistreham, a small port that witnessed strategic battle on D-Day.

Fireworks lit up the sky on Thursday night to mark the anniversary and hundreds of visitors walked among the cemetery’s long rows of white crosses and stars of David. Schoolchildren, retired veterans and soldiers in uniform quitely moved grave to grave to pay homage to the war dead.

Wreaths, parades, parachute-landings and fireworks are all set in row to honour many British veterans and comrades who laid their lives in the Battle of Normandy on June 6, 1944 when more than 1.5 lakhs US, British and Canadian troops waded to confront Nazi Germany`s forces, hastening its defeat.

In Normandy, in addition to the of?cial ceremonies, hundreds of celebrations and other events will form an unprecedented collective tribute.

French President Francois Hollande will be accompanied at the ceremony by 17 leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, Britain`s David Cameron, Canada`s Stephen Harper, Germany`s Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin of Russia and British Queen Elizabeth II.

At the Group of Seven (G7) summit of world leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Hollande urged the World leaders to use the D-Day tribute occasion to ease tensions over the Ukraine crisis. "This is an important occasion to express gratitude and fraternity, but it is also major international event which should serve the interests of peace," Hollande said in G7 summit.

What is D-Day?

The June 6, 1944 invasion of France, known to be the biggest one in history, is celebrated as D-Day. It`s a key date in the story of the second world war.The whole operation was codenamed Overlord. A massive military force set out from England towards France to overthrow Nazi Germany and its leader Adolf Hitler. The Nazis had taken over nearly the whole of Europe.

The allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy and started to break through the German army`s defences. They began an attack that lasted for eleven months and took them all the way to the German capital Berlin, to the bunker that was Adolf Hitler`s headquarters.

The name D-Day has been used for many military operations, but it is now firmly associated with the Allied invasion of Normandy.