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Latest updates: 70th anniversary of D-Day

Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. We have the latest updates from events and commemorations in Europe and the U.S.

President Barack Obama (3rd R) and French President Francois Hollande (2nd L) participate in the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony in Colleville-sur-Mer France on June 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama (3rd R) and French President Francois Hollande (2nd L) participate in the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony in Colleville-sur-Mer France on June 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

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The day the tide turned

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — President Obama in Friday honored a disappearing generation of American servicemen who rushed the shores of Normandy 70 years ago on D-Day in a daring and courageous act to liberate Europe, while promising a new generation of veterans that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

World leaders and dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Germany’s Angela Merkel, gathered in northern France to commemorate the world’s largest amphibious invasion, a turning point in World War II. More than 150,000 American, British, Canadian and other Allied D-Day troops risked — or lost — their lives to begin reclaiming Nazi-occupied Western Europe that day.

The D-Day invasion changed the course of history. It cracked Hitler’s western front as Soviet troops made advances on the ground in the east. The amphibious invasion launched the weeks-long Battle of Normandy, which brought the Allies to Paris and liberated France from Nazi occupation.

Under clear, sunny skies on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach, Obama addressed D-Day veterans, as well as veterans of other wars.

“Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are; we don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is; we come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril,” Obama said at the Normandy American Cemetery, where so many are buried. “And we come to tell the story of the men and women who did it, so that it remains seared into the memory of the future world.”

Recalling the stories of 90-year-old veterans who made it here to commemorate the day, Obama connected their sacrifices to those of another generation — “this 9/11 Generation of service members” — who also “chose to serve a cause that’s greater than self.”

Read more here.

–Zachary Goldfarb

Abby Phillip
June 6, 8:08 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 8:08 am

Honoring those who died in the battle of Normandy

More than 150,000 Allied troops fought on D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history, and many lost their lives. Reporting from Colleville-sur-mer, France, on the 70th anniversary, on a clear, sunny day, the Washington Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb captured poignant images that show where some of them were laid to rest:

 

Abby Phillip
June 6, 8:23 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 8:23 am

How the Washington Post covered D-Day in 1944

"Allies land in France, wipe out big air bases," was the headline on the Washington Post's homepage on June 6, 1944.

“Allies land in France, wipe out big air bases,” was the headline on the Washington Post’s homepage on June 6, 1944.

 

View the PDF here: D-Day Front Page

On June 6, 1944, the Washington Post front page featured five stories about the massive invasion. We’ve compiled more image galleries and videos from D-Day here. http://wapo.st/1lb0uyw

Abby Phillip
June 6, 8:29 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 8:29 am

Watch: President Obama commemorates the fallen at Omaha Beach

“Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men,” Obama said. Watch his full remarks here:

Abby Phillip
June 6, 8:37 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 8:37 am

Infographic: D-Day by the numbers

The BBC published a remarkable infographic showing the sheer might of the Allied invasion of Omaha Beach 70 years ago. Thousands of vehicles, tanks, troop carrier warships, bombers, air transport planes, and other resources went into the massive effort:

 

Abby Phillip
June 6, 9:08 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 9:08 am

Full Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the 70th anniversary of D-Day

President Obama delivered the following remarks at the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 2014.

OBAMA: If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world. Captains paced their decks. Pilots tapped their gauges. Commanders pored over maps, fully aware that for all the months of meticulous planning, everything could go wrong — the winds, the tides, the element of surprise — and, above all, the audacious bet that what waited on the other side of the channel would compel men not to shrink away, but to charge ahead.

Read the rest of his full remarks here: http://wapo.st/Uh6FYz

Abby Phillip
June 6, 9:20 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 9:20 am

Eisenhower on the eve of the Normandy landings

 (Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

(Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

General Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke with Lt. Wallace C. Strobel at Greenham Common airfield on the evening of June 5, 1944. Shortly after Eisenhower’s visit, the troops departed for Normandy. See more images and photos here.

 

Swati Sharma
June 6, 9:25 am
  • Swati Sharma June 6, 9:25 am

Letter: A U.S. soldier’s last one home before he died on D-Day

(Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

(Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

Dear Ma,

Just a few lines tonight to let you know that I’m fine and hope everybody at home is in the best of health. I just finished playing baseball and took a nice shower and now I feel very nice. Hope every thing is going alright at home and don’t forget if you ever need money you could cash my war bonds anything you want to. This afternoon I went to church and I received Holy Communion again today. Getting holy, ain’t I? Well Ma, thats all I got to say to-night so I’ll close with my love to all and hope to hear from you very soon. Take care of yourself.

One of your loving sons, Harry

 

Read the full post here.

Swati Sharma
June 6, 9:36 am
  • Swati Sharma June 6, 9:36 am

A portrait of resilience, at Normandy once again

Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg has been to Omaha Beach before.

In 2009, he was chosen to reenact the invasion at Normandy, as part of the 65th anniversary celebration of D-Day. He met President Obama for the first time then.

Five years later, Remsburg is different. Scarred by the war in Afghanistan, he is partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. His body was irreparably damaged from the blast of an improvised explosive device. But his spirit is unbroken.

Obama has time and time again cited Remsburg’s story–during his 2014 State of the Union Address, and again today at the 70th anniversary of D-Day:

Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg has served 10. And I’ve told Cory’s incredible story before, most recently when he sat with my wife, Michelle, at the State of the Union address. It was here, at Omaha Beach, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, where I first met Cory and his fellow Army Rangers, right after they made their own jump into Normandy.

The next time I saw him, he was in the hospital, unable to speak or walk after an IED nearly killed him in Afghanistan. But over the past five years, Cory has grown stronger, learning to speak again and stand again and walk again, and earlier this year, he jumped out of a plane again. And the first words Cory said to me after his accident echoed those words first shouted all those years ago on this beach: “Rangers lead the way.”

Cory Remsburg has come back today, along with Melvin and Jannise and Brian and many of their fellow active-duty servicemembers. We thank them for their service. They are a reminder that the tradition represented by these gentlemen continues.

Always a fighter, Remsberg, in an emotional moment, stood from his wheelchair for the National Anthem:

Abby Phillip
June 6, 9:49 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 9:49 am

Tricking Hitler to help win the war

D-Day is one of the most celebrated military operations ever. Less known, however, is the secrecy and trickery the Allied forces used to improve the invasion’s chances of succeeding.

It was no minor thing: Operation Bodyguard, as it was known, even included pulling legendary Gen. George Patton from the battlefield in Italy to take charge of a fake army — with fake tanks and all — according to the Patton Museum Foundation. Eisenhower did so in an effort to get Hitler worrying about a possible Allied invasion of Pas de Calais, an area of northern France that was much closer to Allied strongholds across the English Channel in Great Britain.

scholarly paper written in 1997 by an Air Force officer, Jon S. Wendell, breaks things down nicely.

Read more about the lies Bodyguard needed to trick Hitler into believing here.

–Dan Lamothe

Abby Phillip
June 6, 10:16 am
  • Abby Phillip June 6, 10:16 am
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