Obama honors D-Day veterans at ceremony

by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Chris Henry
Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Europe

NORMANDY AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL, France — President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke June 6 at a ceremony honoring the servicemembers who fought and died during the Allied invasion of Normandy 65 years ago.

“You, the veterans of that landing, are why we still remember what happened on D-Day. You remind us that in the end, human destiny is not determined by forces beyond our control,” President Obama said. “Our history has always been the sum total of the choices made and the actions taken by each individual man and woman. It’s always been up to us.”

The 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 18th Military Police Brigade was responsible for the operational command and control of all ceremonies during the 65th anniversary of D-Day, which took place from June 3 to 7 in Normandy, France.
President Obama came to Normandy after visiting Cairo, Egypt, and Germany. In Cairo, he reached out to Muslims to seek a new beginning and build new partnerships to fight violent extremists, and in Germany, he visited the site of the World War II Buchenwald concentration camp and wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

More than 100 World War II veterans from Great Britain, Canada and the United States attended the ceremony.

Military aircraft from France, Great Britain and the United States performed a flyover and the U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus provided music. Hundreds more military and civilian members of all services from across Europe and the United States also supported the event.

The Allied invasion of Normandy marked the greatest seaborne invasion in history, with about 155,000 servicemembers, 5,000 ships and landing craft, 50,000 vehicles and 11,000 aircraft.

The Allies paid a heavy price for the daring assault; about 2,500 were killed and thousands more were injured in the operation.

The U.S. First Army established a cemetery at the site of the invasion on June 8, 1944. It was the first American cemetery on European soil, and today, it is the final resting place for 9,387 servicemembers.