Blood soaking the water at democracy’s beachhead

In the several wars we have seen the last 100 years those who had to go to fight found in their co-soldiers not only necessary protective combatants but also comrades and friends. Lot of youngsters were called under subscription or military service call and had no choice to go to face the bloodshed or to lend up in prison as conscientious objector. At the battlefield they learned how their friendship and Offer for the cause of democracy could stimulate them to continue and to resist the will of dying.

Today we can not find many alive of the 150 000 Allied soldiers who slogged onto storm-torn beaches or parachuted into Normandy. We got to know that D-day as the “longest day” glorified by several films. Yesterday we could see a nice choreography watched by some survivors. With moments they stood, somber-faced, but at other moments you saw their faces gloat. They had all the reason to be proud when President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande paid tribute to history’s biggest amphibious invasion.

Yesterday was a day of pride for many with remembrance and honours for those who waded through blood-tinged waves, climbed razor-sharp cliffs or fell from the skies, staring down death or dying in an invasion that portended the fall of the Third Reich and the end of World War II.

19 world leaders and monarchs celebrated on Friday the sacrifices of D-Day, and looked at the madness of such an assault on humanity.

Omaha Beach - Obama - Hollande

US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande look out over Omaha Beach. – Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

In a theatrical speech at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial U.S.A. President Barack Obama looked at “democracy’s beachhead”.
Obama told the stories of average Americans who fought their way into Normandy on June 6, 1944, he spoke of those young people who left their village for the first time in their life, to go to unknown far countries.

In addition to those who fought in Normandy, Obama praised the massive machinery that bolstered the D-Day invasion — some 5,000 ships and landing craft, about 11,000 planes and 30,000 vehicles, the largest armada in history.

At the US cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, where nearly 10,000 white marble tombstones sit on a bluff overlooking the site of the June 6 1944 battle’s most violent fighting at Omaha Beach, Obama described D-day’s violent scene in vivid terms, recalling that

‘by daybreak, blood soaked the water’ and ‘thousands of rounds bit into flesh and sand’.

‘Hell’s Beach’ had earned its name.”

Seventy years after Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, President Barack Obama returned Friday to this hallowed battleground and said “the tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom” on D-Day and now lives on in a new generation.

‘America’s claim, our commitment to liberty, to equality, to freedom, to the inherent dignity of every human being – that claim is written in blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity,’

“If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world,”

French president Francois Hollande speaks at Sword beach.

French president Francois Hollande speaks at Sword beach. Photograph: Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

French president Francois Hollande told guests at the international ceremony at Sword beach, including Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, newly elected Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth:

The 6th June is not a day like others: it is not just the longest day or a day to remember the dead, but a day for the living to keep the promise written with the blood of the fighters, to be loyal to their sacrifice by building a world that is fairer and more human.

It was nice to notice also a thought was given for those who died on the other side, where also German victims of Nazism could be found.

In a nod to the Ukraine conflict he added that the day was a

“message of peace and a requirement for a United Nations that intervenes where it’s necessary for the collective security … and a Europe that has allowed peace on a continent that was at war throughout the 20th century”.

Veterans stand to attention flanked by children during an international D-day commemoration ceremony on the beach of Ouistreham.

Veterans stand to attention flanked by children during an international D-day commemoration ceremony on the beach of Ouistreham. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the Normandy Veterans Association on parade in Arromanches.

Members of the Normandy Veterans Association on parade in Arromanches. Photograph: Martin Godwin

From November, laying up its standard as age defeats its ranks, the Normandy Veterans’ Association will exist no more. At the Bayeux war cemetery Eddie Slater, national chairman of the Normandy Veterans Association, read the exhortation:

‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.’

The British Queen Elisabeth, the only one of the heads of state in Normandy today to have served during the second world war, accompanied by Prince Philip, 92, himself also a veteran of the second world war, said:

This immense and heroic endeavour brought the end of the second world war within reach.

I am sure that these commemorations will provide veterans of the conflict and their families gathered here in France, along with their hosts, the people of Normandy, with an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and the incredible sacrifices that were made.

It is that experience of many forgotten we should remember. We should bear in mind the incredible sacrifices that were made for people from other countries than their own, where not such fighting went on.

While many of the fallen in the Battle of Normandy — Americans, British, Polish and even Germans — lie in manicured cemeteries, some victims have been largely forgotten — the French.

Allied bombardments killed an estimated 20,000 French civilians, and Hollande paid tribute to them Friday in Caen, largely destroyed in the bombings like many Normandy cities.

The Vichy government which collaborated with the Nazis — and which France took decades to admit represented the state — used the bombings as a propaganda tool, burying the extent of fatalities. Historians now believe that nearly as many French civilians died in Allied air raids as Britons during the German Blitz.

“This battle was also a battle of civilians,”

Hollande said. Normandy’s residents

“helped the victory happen. They opened their doors to the liberators.”

Obama acknowledges veterans during 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France,

Barack Obama acknowledges veterans during the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, June 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Preceding posts:

Friendship and Offer for the cause of democracy

Invasion of Normandy a day never to forget

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Additional Reading:

World honors D-Day’s fallen, 70 years on

the peace and stability that its wartime history brought continues to be challenged, as bloodshed in Ukraine poses new threats to European security and East-West relations.

Hollande, who invited Ukraine’s president-elect to the D-Day commemorations as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, alluded to the conflict.

“It is because France itself experienced the barbarity (of war) that it feels a duty to preserve peace everywhere, at the frontiers of Europe as in Africa,” Hollande said.

He was hosting the world leaders in Ouistreham, a small port that was the site of a strategic battle on D-Day.

Obama, Putin come face-to-face in France at D-Day event

A much anticipated encounter between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, came on the sidelines of a lunch held Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

The World War II commemorative events also brought Putin and Poroshenko together in their first face-to-face meeting.

They talked briefly before the leaders went to the D-Day lunch. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood with them as they spoke.

Putin and Poroshenko shook hands before their informal exchange, Hollande’s office told CNN.

No interaction was seen between Obama and Putin at that point.

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  • Obama honors D-Day at ‘democracy’s beachhead’ (kgw.com)
    Obama and French President Francois Hollande — who also spoke — placed a wreath at a colonnade near the gravesites. They held their hands over their hearts as a bugler played taps and jets roared overhead. A 21-gun salute boomed over the thousands of stone crosses at Omaha Beach.
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    Harry Kulkowitz, the son of Russian immigrants, lied about his age to get into the service.”Don’t worry, Harry,” Obama said. “The statute of limitations has expired.”Of these soldiers, Obama said: “Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men.”

    The president also cited his grandfather, who fought with George Patton’s army, and grandmother, who helped build the “mighty arsenal of democracy” back home.

    D-Day veterans can be comforted to know that their tradition is being carried by “the 9/11 Generation” that fought bravely in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, Obama said.

  • World honours D-Day’s fallen 70 years on (nzherald.co.nz)
    93 year old U.S WWII veteran Jim Martin of the 101st Airborne adjusts his cap after he performed a tandem parachute jump on to Utah Beach, western France. AP Photo / Thibault Camus

    93 year old U.S WWII veteran Jim Martin of the 101st Airborne adjusts his cap after he performed a tandem parachute jump on to Utah Beach, western France. AP Photo / Thibault Camus

    Gone are the screaming shells, seasick soldiers and bloodied waters of 1944. On Friday, a sun-splattered Normandy celebrated peace, with silent salutes, tears and international friendship marking 70 years since the D-Day invasion helped change the course of World War II and modern history.
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    The glorious sun that rose as they arrived shone through the day on a land where paratroopers’ corpses once hung from trees and medics dragged wounded soldiers from blood-swirled waves.

    But the peace and stability that its wartime history brought continues to be challenged, as bloodshed in Ukraine poses new threats to European security and East-West relations.

    Hollande sought to use Friday’s gathering to reconcile Russia with the West and Ukraine, and invited Ukraine’s president-elect as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin met with Petro Poroshenko and Obama on the sidelines of the event.

    “It is because France itself experienced the barbarity (of war) that it feels a duty to preserve peace everywhere, at the frontiers of Europe as in Africa,” Hollande said.

  • Obama honors D-Day at ‘democracy’s beachhead’ (king5.com)
    At Omaha Beach, Obama told the stories of average Americans who fought their way into Normandy on June 6, 1944, many of whom attended the ceremony in their slightly bigger dress uniforms.He spoke of Wilson Cowell, who, told he couldn’t pilot airplanes during World War II because he lacked a college degree, decided to become a parachutist instead — at age 16.”Rock” Merritt, who also parachuted into Normandy on that deadly morning, still spends time talking to today’s service members at Fort Bragg, Obama said.
  • World honors D-Day’s fallen, 70 years on (sfgate.com)
    For President Barack Obama, transmitting the memory of their “longest day” means keeping intact the values that veterans fought and died for.”When the war was won, we claimed no spoils of victory — we helped Europe rebuild,” Obama said in a speech at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. It is the site where 9,387 fallen soldiers rest under white marble tombstones on a bluff above Omaha Beach, the bloodiest among five beach landings by U.S. and British troops.”This was democracy’s beachhead,” he said, assuring veterans that “your legacy is in good hands.”

    F-15 jets flew over the cemetery in missing-man formation, a 21 gun salute boomed and taps sounded.
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    The day of gratitude drew royals including Queen Elizabeth II of England, who dined at the French presidential palace in the evening, and the king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, as well as political leaders from across Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also joined in, along with a small group of German soldiers, as a sign of European unity.

    Both symbolism and pragmatism were on French President Francois Hollande‘s agenda. With an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had been elbowed out of G-7 talks a day earlier, the ceremonies also became a moment to try to deflate the tense situation in Ukraine. The West fears the ongoing fighting there could fan a new Cold War with Moscow, which has annexed the eastern Ukraine region of Crimea.

  • World honors D-Day’s fallen, 70 years on (northwestohio.com)
    Serving soldiers of 173rd Airborne brigade, the ceremony organizers, served as ushers, wearing maroon berets. For the ceremony, small U.S. and French flags were placed in the ground at each grave.In addition to the fallen troops, Allied bombardments killed an estimated 20,000 French civilians, and Hollande paid tribute to them Friday in Caen, which like many cities of Normandy was largely destroyed in the bombings.France has only tentatively come to grips with the invasion’s toll on civilians. The Allied bombings – especially the deadly onslaught in Normandy during the invasion launched on D-Day – were used as a propaganda tool by the Vichy government. Historians now believe that nearly as many French civilians died in Allied air raids as Britons during the German Blitz.

    “This battle was also a battle of civilians,” Hollande said. He said Normandy’s residents “helped the victory happen. They opened their doors to the liberators.”

    Friday’s commemorations also honored soldiers in today’s conflicts.

    Jeffrey McIllwain, professor at the San Diego State University school of public affairs, will lay a wreath on behalf of educators who have lost students to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – himself included.

    He wants to keep the memory of D-Day alive as the number of survivors dwindles, and brought 12 students to Normandy for a course on the lessons of D-Day.

    “I make them promise to bring their grandchildren,” he said, “to serve as a bridge to the next generation.”

  • Day 4: The President Commemorates the 70th Anniversary of D-Day (whitehouse.gov)
    “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.”

    At the end of the war, when our ships set off for America, filled with our fallen, tens of thousands of liberated Europeans turned out to say farewell, and they pledged to take care of the more than 60,000 Americans who would remain in cemeteries on this continent. In the words of one man, we will take care of the fallen “as if their tombs were our children’s.” And the people of France, you have kept your word like the true friends you are. We are forever grateful.

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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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