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Obama Visits Normandy to Commemorate the 65th Anniversary of D-Day

June 6, 2009

From the New York Times, a description of Obama’s visit to Normandy, commemorating the activities of the US and its allies who landed on the heavily guarded French coast in an attempt to conquer “fortress Europa”:

The visit to Normandy on Saturday revolved around the commemoration of June 6, 1944 — the day known as D-Day when a vast military operation code-named Overlord got underway with ships, airplanes and massive firepower all focused on building a bridgehead across the English Channel in northern France to begin a campaign across Europe that ended with Germany’s surrender 11 months later.

On that day, 156,000 troops — 73,000 of them Americans — took part in history’s biggest amphibious landing along a 50-mile stretch of beaches supported by 6,900 vessels ships and 11,590 airplanes, according to British figures. At the same time American airborne troops dropped by parachute in Nazi-occupied France.

More than 3,000 allied troops died in the first two days of the campaign to turn the tide of World War II. But just as many French civilians, caught up in the conflict, perished in the same period, according to a new study by British historian Anthony Beevor.

And today, at the American military cemetery in this seaside village above the sands where the landing began, and which President Obama planned to visit on Saturday, 9,387 headstones mark the resting places of American soldiers who died in the invasion and its aftermath.

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