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U.S. and France honor D-Day’s 73rd anniversary with ceremonies, parade and re-enactments

U.S. and France honor D-Day’s 73rd anniversary with ceremonies, parade and re-enactments

U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band members perform in a parade after a memorial and French Legion of Honor induction ceremony in Carentan, France, June 3, 2016. More than 380 service members from Europe and affiliated D-Day historical units are participating in the 72nd anniversary as part of Joint Task Force D-Day 72. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

By Rindi White

 

June 6 marks the 73rd anniversary of one of the most pivotal battles in World War II, D-Day. The Battle of Normandy, a two-month struggle that finally resulted in the Allied forces wresting control of Western Europe from Nazi control, kicked off with the massive amphibious military assault on France’s shores.

 

Called Operation Overlord, the operation was the largest air, land and sea operation undertaken before or since that day, according to information from the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. The landing included more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and more than 150,000 servicemen.

 

By the end of the landing, the Allied forces had suffered 10,000 casualties, more than 4,000 of which were dead. But the invasion produced an important result: it forced the Germans to fight on two fronts, which eventually led to their downfall and brought an end to the war.

 

A large D-Day Memorial Parade and Musical Salute is held each year in Sainte Mere Eglise in Normandy, France, the first village to be liberated by American paratroopers following the invasion.

 

According to parade organizers, during the parade military units, marching bands, cultural and civic groups march down streets that were, in 1944, lined with American troops. While the parade is meant to honor the Allied forces that set the town free, town leaders have continued that honor in a year-round way by naming its streets after Allied generals, including Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The village has also preserved WWII-era artifacts in its WWII museum in the town center.

 

On U.S. soil, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, will hold an anniversary celebration at 11 a.m. on June 6. Speaking will be Jerry Yellin, a WWII pilot who flew the final combat mission of the war, during which his wingman was the last man killed in combat during the war. Admission is free and there will be a Veterans Reunion tent and music by the 29th Division Band. Find out more about the celebration at www.dday.org/event/73rd-anniversary-of-d-day/.

 

The National WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. will also hold a D-Day Commemoration at 11 a.m. Find out more at www.wwiimemorialfriends.org.

 

And although it doesn’t take place on June 6, people interested in WWII history might enjoy watching the annual D-Day Conneaut in the town of Conneaut, Ohio. Held each August (this year Aug. 17-19), the event re-creates the Allied landings on the coast of Normandy. According to the D-Day Conneaut website, www.ddayohio.us, hundreds of re-enactors from around the U.S. and Canada assemble on the 250-yard beach of Conneaut Township Park, re-enacting the invasion landings, as well as inland skirmishes between occupying German and French resistance fighters. Allied parachute and Glider infantry also participate, and spectators are able to see not only the battles, but also the camp life, uniforms and gear of WWII soldiers.

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