D-Day: 'No Words to Describe the Immensity of the Debt We Owe You'

World leaders, veterans mark 80th anniversary of D-Day landing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2024 6:36 AM CDT
World Leaders, Veterans Mark 80th Anniversday of D-Day
A Canadian flag hangs from a parachutist as he lands ahead of the Canadian commemorative ceremony near Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024.   (Lou Benoist, Pool via AP)

Eighty years ago Thursday, Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to launch the liberation of Western Europe from the Nazis. More than 150,000 men attacked five beaches in the D-Day landings, and more than 4,400 of them were killed. Around 200 veterans who returned to France, all in their late 90s or older, were the focus of commemorations Thursday, where leaders praised their bravery in one of history's most important battles, the Guardian reports.

  • President Biden will speak at an event attended by around two dozen other world leaders, the Washington Post reports. He will later attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and a ceremony at Omaha Beach, where more than 2,400 Americans were killed or wounded.

  • King Charles III spoke at the British Normandy Memorial, overlooking beaches where British troops landed, the AP reports. "Eighty years ago on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, our nation—and those which stood alongside it—faced what my grandfather, King George VI, described as the supreme test," he said. "This vital start to the liberation of Europe was a vast allied effort," the king said. "American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish formations fought here in Normandy."
  • "Brave Canadians like you sacrificed everything for our freedom," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a ceremony near Juno Beach, where thousands of Canadian troops landed. "There are no words to describe the immensity of the debt we owe you." Some 13 Canadian veterans were at the ceremony, the CBC reports. Another vet, 100-year-old Bill Cameron, died the day before he was due to fly from Vancouver.

  • Prince William, speaking at the Canadian ceremony, praised the troops who fought to "ensure fascism was conquered." "Standing here today, in peaceful silence, it is almost impossible to grasp the courage it would have taken to run into the fury of battle that very day," he said.
  • Tank crewman Roy Hayward, 98, was among the veterans at the British ceremony, the Guardian reports. "I lost both of my legs, but that's nothing in comparison with what happened to other people and that's always the attitude I've had," he said.
  • Officials from Russia, a World War II ally, were not invited to the ceremonies, the AP reports. France cited the country's "war of aggression against Ukraine that has intensified in recent weeks"
(More D-Day stories.)

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