World War II veterans looked on while a million rose petals fell to the ground on New York’s Liberty Island on Friday as the US, which lost thousands of young men to Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944, commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Three helicopters dropped the petals onto the island - home to the Statue of Liberty - as the French and American national anthems were played. A French military frigate was moored to the island for the occasion.
Guests included school children - some of whose grandparents served in the war - military personnel and World War II veterans, who looked back to the events 70 years ago, when tens of thousands of Allied Forces stormed several of Normandy's beaches in what would be history's largest amphibious assault. The brutal battle which ensued saw thousands of American, British and Canadian troops killed, and heralded the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany.
“It was an experience of my life I’ll never forget” 95-year-old veteran George J Meade told FRANCE 24. “But today is a great experience because at least the French people appreciate that the American forces were there; what we, amongst others, did.”
“All I saw was dead people and wounded Americans,” Joseph Chiofolo, a 92-year-old veteran told FRANCE 24. ”I did the best I could. I used common sense, that’s all. I’m just a lucky guy.”
Meanwhile in Times Square, FRANCE 24 broadcast images on one of the Manhattan landmark’s giant screens of the Normandy landings and of the commemorative ceremonies that took place across Normandy beaches on Friday.
James and Mary Smith, retirees from Atlanta, Georgia, stopped in the square to watch the report. “More Americans were killed in France on D-Day than any other battle in the Second World War,” James Smith said, applauding Friday’s ceremonies in Normandy. “Good on France.”
Another passer-by, Samantha from North Carolina (who preferred not to give her surname), said that she felt it was important to remember D-Day. “This is certainly a very special day for us, coming from a military family” she said.
Date created : 2014-06-07