Normandy marks the 79th anniversary of D-Day and honors WWII veterans

AT OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) — An overwhelming noise of gunshots and men’s screams. This is how World War II veteran Marie Scott described D-Day as ceremonies honoring those who fought for freedom in the largest sea, air and land campaign in history.

On Tuesday, the whistling sound of the wind accompanied many reenacters who descended on Omaha Beach at dawn to mark the 79th anniversary of the attack that led to the liberation of France and western Europe from Nazi control. Some brought bouquets of flowers, others waved American flags.

Scott experienced everything through her ears. She was just 17 when she was assigned as a communications officer in Portsmouth, UK. Their job was to relay messages between the men on the ground and General Dwight D. Eisenhower and senior officers overseeing the operation.

“I was at war. I could hear gunshots, machine guns, planes bombing, men screaming and screaming, men giving orders,” she recalled.

“After a few moments of scares, I realized what was going on… and I was like, well, you know, there’s no time for scares. You have a job to do. So go ahead. And that’s exactly what I did.”

Scott is approaching her 97th birthday and said D-Day was a “defining point” in her life.

“As a non-combatant, I was still at war, and I realized the enormity of war. In that moment, people died.”

A ceremony was to be held on Tuesday at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach, where the graves of 9,386 US soldiers are located, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and subsequent operations . There are 1,557 names engraved on the walls of the missing, some of which have since been recovered and identified.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley were scheduled to attend the commemoration along with World War II veterans.

An international ceremony was later scheduled at the nearby British Normandy Memorial in the presence of officials from Germany and the nine main allied nations: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway and the French Secretary of Defense of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace were expected.

Many visitors descended on the American Cemetery ahead of Tuesday’s ceremonies to honor those who gave their lives.

Jean-Philippe Bertrand, a visitor from the southern French city of Marseille, walked among the countless rows of white crosses on Monday. “It is unimaginable to make such a sacrifice for my freedom, for my son’s freedom,” he said.

“You hear about it on the news and you see the pictures. But once you are here and see the reality and the sacrifices that have been made for our beautiful country, I wanted to make the journey once in my life to thank all these people to whom we owe so much,” he added added.

German professor Andreas Fuchs, who teaches French in Berlin, brought students aged 10 to 12 to Normandy through an exchange program.

“It is very important for children to have a moment in their life where they can understand the liberation of Europe. And knowing what peace has meant for 80 years,” he said.

Jeffrey Schaeffer, Nicolas Garriga and Thomas Padilla contributed to the story.

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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