ME and Ophelia

Sunday, June 06, 2004

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A salute to all the soldiers who had helped liberate Europe

This weekend Queen Elizabeth II is in Normandy along with at least 16 other leaders. Heads of state and thousands of war veterans have begun ceremonies on the French coast to mark 60 years since the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Events include memorial services and visits to graves of some of the 250,000 killed in the battle for Normandy. Wreaths have been laid at the vast war cemetery at Colleville, near Omaha Beach, at a ceremony attended by US President George W Bush among others.

The Queen visited Juno Beach to remember the sacrifices of British and Canadian troops and the Royal British Legion held a remembrance service at Bayeux Cathedral. Addressing the assembly on the beach in both English and French, she described the Juno landing as "one of the most dramatic military operations in history", saying she saluted all the soldiers who had helped liberate Europe.

"You will be honoured ever and always," Mr Bush told veterans, adding that America's alliance with Europe remained "strong". "America would do it again for our friends," he said. France, said French President Jacques Chirac, would "never forget" the sacrifices of US troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the first Russian, or Soviet, head of state to attend a D-Day commemoration. Mr Putin said the Russian people were grateful to the veterans of the landings for what he called their historic feat. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has described his own invitation to attend the ceremony as a sign that the shadow of war has been lifted from Germany.
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Nothing on this scale is likely to happen again

Around 12,000 of those who took part in the seaborne invasion are in France to commemorate the event, with hundreds arriving by boat in Normandy. The Arromanches parade by old soldiers, many of whom are in their eighties, is being referred to as the Normandy veterans' "farewell march-past".

"I'm getting near death," Harry Hudec, a "Red Devil" US paratrooper who landed inland from Utah Beach, told AP news agency. "I'm 82, son, and I'm not getting any younger!"

For UK veterans unable to go to France, the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas in Staffordshire is also holding a memorial today.
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He was 93 and had suffered from Alzheimer's disease

"He was truly a great politician who eventually brought down the Iron Curtain - may he rest in peace and always be thought of as the great liberator of Eastern Europe" - Christian A. Hehn, Hanover, Germany.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/06/2004
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