Saturday, July 2, 2022

Crowds honor WWII veterans at Normandy D-Day celebrations

When D-Day veterans set foot on Normandy beaches and other World War II sites, they express a mixture of joy and sorrow. Glad to see the gratitude and friendliness of the French towards those who came here on 6 June 1944. Tragically, they think about their fallen comrades and another battle is now being waged in Europe: the war in Ukraine.

For the past two years, D-Day celebrations were reduced to a minimum amid the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

This year, hordes of French and international visitors – including veterans in their 90s – came back to Normandy for the anniversary of the 78th D-Day to pay tribute to some 160,000 soldiers from Britain, the US, Canada and elsewhere, who had come there to bring freedom. ,

WWII veteran Charles Shay, 97, pays tribute to soldiers on the shores of Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Monday, June 6, 2022, the day of the 78th anniversary of the attack, which brought a helped end World War II.

Several thousand people were expected on Monday at a ceremony at the American Cemetery near Omaha Beach in the French city of Coléville-sur-Mer. Expecting dozens of American veterans to attend was 97-year-old Ray Wallace, a former paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division.

On D-Day, his plane was hit and caught fire, forcing him to jump earlier than expected. He landed 20 miles (32 km) from the town of Sainte-Mere-glise, the first French village to be liberated from Nazi occupation.

“Then we were all a little scared. And then whenever that guy kicked us out, we were far from where the rest of the group was. That was scary,” Wallace told the Associated Press.

Less than a month later, he was taken prisoner by the Germans. He was finally freed after 10 months and returned to America.

Still, Wallace thinks he was “lucky”.

“I miss the good friends I lost there. So, it’s a little bit emotional,” he said with sadness in his voice. “I guess you can say that on what I did I’m proud but I didn’t.”

When asked about the secret to his longevity, “Calvados!” He made a joke about Normandy’s reference to the local wine.

US WWII veteran Ray Wallace of the 507th PIR 82nd Airborne, as World War II history enthusiasts parade in WWII vehicles to celebrate the 78th anniversary of D-Day, which has led to France and Europe was liberated from German occupation, in s

US WWII veteran Ray Wallace of the 507th PIR 82nd Airborne, as World War II history enthusiasts parade in WWII vehicles to celebrate the 78th anniversary of D-Day, which has led to France and Europe was liberated from German occupation, in s

On D-Day, Allied forces landed on beaches named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword, and Gold, which were transported by 7,000 boats. In that one day, 4,414 Allied soldiers lost their lives, of whom 2,501 were Americans. More than 5,000 were injured.

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

Wallace, who is using a wheelchair, was one of about 20 veterans of WWII who opened the parade of military vehicles in Sainte-Mere-glise on Saturday to thousands of applause in a joyful atmosphere. When parents told their children about the achievements of the heroes of World War II, they did not hide their joy, happily shaking hands with the crowd.

Many history buffs, dressed in military and civilian clothing from this period, also came to stage reenactments of events.

British veteran Bill Gladden arrives at the ceremony at the Pegasus Bridge in Ranville, Normandy, on June 5, 2022.

British veteran Bill Gladden arrives at the ceremony at the Pegasus Bridge in Ranville, Normandy, on June 5, 2022.

In Colleville-sur-Mer on Monday, US Air Force aircraft are scheduled to fly over American Cemetery during a commemoration ceremony in the presence of Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The site is home to the burials of 9,386 people who died fighting on D-Day and in the campaigns that followed.

For Dale Thompson, 82, visiting the site over the weekend was his first.

Thompson, who traveled with his wife from Florida, served in the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army in the early 1960s. He was statesside and saw no match.

Walking among thousands of marble stones, Thompson wondered how he would have reacted if he landed on D-Day.

“I try to put myself in their place,” he said. “Can I be as heroic as these guys?”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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