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Crowds honor WWII veterans at Normandy D-Day celebrations


Crowds honor WWII veterans at Normandy D-Day celebrations

As a bright sun rose on the wide band of Omaha Beach sand on Monday, 78 years later, the veteran of the United States D, Charles Shay, expressed thoughts for his comrades that fell that day.

Colleville-Sur-Mer, France (AP)-when veterans of the day D stepped on the beaches of Normandy and other World War II sites, express a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy to see the gratitude and kindness of the French to those who landed on June 6, 1944. Sadness while thinking about their fallen comrades and another battle that is now freed in Europe: the war in Ukraine.

As a bright sun rose on the wide band of Omaha Beach sand on Monday, 78 years later, the veteran of the United States D, Charles Shay, expressed thoughts for his comrades that fell that day. “I have never forgotten them and I know that their spirits are here,” he told The Associated Press.

The American Penobscot Native of Indian Island, Maine, participated in a burning ceremony near the beach in Saint-Laurent-Sur -mer.

Shay, who now lives in Normandy, was a 19 -year -old United States army doctor when he landed at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

He said he was sad to see war in Europe once again, many years later.

“Ukraine is a very sad situation. I feel sorry for people there and I don’t know why this war had to come, but I think human beings like, I think they like to fight. I don’t know, “he said.

“In 1944 I was terrified of these beaches and we thought we would bring peace to the world. But it is not possible.”

This year, Shay delivered the task of memory to another American native, of the Crow tribe, Julia Kelly, a veteran of the Gulf War, who made the wise ritual. “Never forget, never forget,” she said. “At this time, at any time, war is not good.”

Crowds honor WWII veterans at Normandy D-Day celebrations

Shay’s message to young generations would be “to always be attentive.”

“Of course, I have to say that they should protect their freedom they have now,” he said.
During the last two years, day D ceremonies were minimized in the middle of COVID-19 block restrictions.

This year, the crowds of French and international visitors, including 90 -year -old veterans, are back in Normandy to pay tribute to the almost 160,000 troops of Great Britain, United States, Canada and other places that landed there to bring freedom.

Several thousand people were expected on Monday in a ceremony later in the American cemetery with a view to the beach of Omaha in the French city of Colleville-Sur-Mer. Amid the dozens of US veterans who hoped to attend was Ray Wallace, 97, a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Crowds honor WWII veterans at Normandy D-Day celebrations

On day D, his plane was beaten and caught fire, forcing him to jump earlier than expected. He landed at 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the city of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French village to be released from the Nazi occupation.

“We all get a little scared. And then, every time the guy left us, we were far from where the rest of the group was. That was scary, ”Wallace told The Associated Press.

Less than a month later, the Germans took him prisoners. He was finally released after 10 months and returned to the US.

Still, Wallace believes he was lucky.

“I remember the good friends that I lost there. So it’s a bit emotional, “he said, sadly in his voice.” I think you can say that I am proud of what I did, but I didn’t do so much. “

They asked him about his longevity secret. “Calvated!” He joked, in reference to the local Alcohol of Normandy.

On day D, allied troops landed on the beaches with the code called Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, transported by 7,000 ships. In that single day, 4,414 Allied soldiers lost their lives, 2,501 of them Americans. More than 5,000 were injured.

On the German side, several thousand were killed or injured.

Wallace, who is using a wheelchair, was among the 20 veterans of World War II who opened the Parade of Military Vehicles on Saturday in Sainte-Mere-Eglise to great applause from thousands of people, in a cheerful atmosphere. He did not hide his pleasure, happily greeting the crowd while the parents explained the achievements of the heroes of World War II to his children.

Many history fans, with military and civil clothing of the time, also came to organize a recreation of events.

In Colleville-Sur-MER on Monday, the United States Air Force aircraft will fly over the US cemetery during the commemoration ceremony, in the presence of the Mark Milley Army General, president of the Joint Personnel Chiefs. The place is the home of the tombs of 9,386 people who died fighting day D and in the operation

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Crowds honor WWII veterans at Normandy D-Day celebrations



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