The last day of his current trip across Europe — President Obama traveled to Normandy, France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
After meeting with World War II and post-9/11 U.S. veterans, the President attended the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach. In his remarks, he paid tribute to the American and Allied forces who fought during the D-Day landings in June of 1944.
“I’m honored to return here today to pay tribute to the men and women of a generation who defied every danger — among them, our veterans of D-Day,” President Obama said. He went on to thank the people of France for their generosity to Americans who have come “over the generations — to these beaches, and to this sacred place of rest for 9,387 Americans.”
On June 6, 1944, approximately 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel in the first wave of the assault. By the end of June an additional 700,000 had joined them in France. The first wave was preceded by bombardment of German positions and 24,000 airborne troops dropped behind German lines. Months before the operation, the Allies used code breaking and elaborate disinformation techniques to learn about German defensive plans and mask where and when the invasion would occur.
The United Kingdom, the United States and Canada divided responsibility for securing five sectors of the Normandy coast. They were joined by soldiers, paratroops and sailors from Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.
On the other side of Europe, the Soviet Union’s military operations against Germany and victories in places like Stalingrad inflicted severe casualties and ultimately helped the Normandy invasion succeed by maintaining pressure on Germany’s Eastern Front.