'Democracy's Beachhead': Vets, Leaders Honor D-Day
Obama in Normandy for 70th anniversary
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2014 6:28 AM CDT
President Obama and French President Francois Hollande look out at Omaha Beach at Normandy American Cemetery, Friday, June 6, 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – World leaders joined thousands of veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago today to commemorate D-Day. At Omaha Beach, the site of the bloodiest fighting, a US military band played while veterans from the 29th Infantry Division stood at attention at 6:30am, the precise moment Allied troops first went ashore. "Twenty-nine, let's go!" they yelled, before taking shots of Normandy apple brandy, the AP reports. Elsewhere on Normandy's beaches, veterans looked out over an expanse of golden sand and recalled a different scene.

"It was mayhem," said Jim Kelly, 91. Of the seven soldiers in his party, "I was the only one standing," he tells the Guardian. "They hit the landing craft straight away. How they missed me, I don't know." Some 4,400 Allied troops died in the June 6, 1944, invasion, followed by the months-long Battle of Normandy. At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, US and French flags were placed at each of the 9,387 marble tombstones to honor "the patriots who, through their courage and sacrifice, changed the course of an entire century," President Obama said. He referred to Normandy as "democracy's beachhead," reports USA Today.

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Jun 6, 2014 9:04 PM CDT
Thank you to all who were there. It's hard to imagine the feeling those men must have had as their crafts were approaching the beach. The sacrifice so many made in the name of freedom, leaves me choked up every time I think about it.
Ezekiel 25:17
Jun 6, 2014 7:06 PM CDT
Remember one of the older segments of Jay Walking on the older Leno show. He asked high school kids about Omaha Beach and just about every one of them said it was in Nebraska. I used to have a complete encyclopedia on just WWII. Mom finally sold it at a yard sale. It was my fault for ordering it. I just ordered the first few volumes and then three large boxes arrive. The attached invoice says, "We decided to send you the rest of the collection. Oh, here's the bill." Well, it did let me keep making payments until it was finally paid off." So, what is your new factoid of the day? Did you know that the Russians were the first to arrive at the few remaining concentration camps. Most had been shut or burned to cover up what they did. But one camp was not burned. The Russians had a deep hatred of Germans and they first rounded up officers and fired up the furnaces and put them in alive. Then some Russian soldiers formed a rogue group and rounded up city leaders from towns that surrounded the camps and those men and their whole families were put through the furnaces. This went on right up until the allied armies showed up. Then it was the Russians hiding what they did. Non of the Russian commanders who oversaw this rogue operation were ever brought to justice. It was hidden well past the time that opportunity would have existed to prosecute.
Jun 6, 2014 4:30 PM CDT
Ironic how thousands die every day on the streets and not so much as a mentioned or memorial.