As it happened: D-Day 70th anniversary commemorations
Issued on: Modified:
Seventy years after the Allied landings in Normandy, world leaders and war veterans gathered in France Friday to mark D-Day with ceremonies, parades and pledges to preserve the hard-fought freedoms for which thousands perished.
- French President François Hollande hosted 19 world leaders, more than 1,000 veterans and many others on a day marked by more than 400 memorial ceremonies across France.
- Speaking at the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, French President François Hollande said, “France will never forget what it owes these soldiers, what it owes the United States.''
- Taking the stage at a site he called “democracy's beachhead,'' US President Barack Obama said, “America's claim – our commitment to liberty, to equality, to freedom, to the inherent dignity of every human being – that claim is written in blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity.''
- In a second speech, to an audience that included Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hollande paid tribute to the Soviet Red Army as well as the German people who, he said, were also victims of Nazism.
- On the sidelines of the D-Day ceremonies, Putin met with Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko as the Ukraine crisis threatened to overshadow the unity on display during the day.
- Putin also met with Obama in the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Russia annexed Crimea in March. The White House said Obama urged Putin to seize the opportunity to ease tensions in Ukraine during the brief, informal meeting.
- Britain’s Queen Elizabeth was one of more than a dozen world leaders at the ceremony. The British monarch was the only head of state at the commemorations to have lived through World War II.
For a recap of today’s events, please click on our blog below.