World marks 75 years since D-Day in solemn observances
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World marks 75 years since D-Day in solemn observances

Thousands gather to honor 4,414 Allied troops who died on June 6, 1944, in biggest-ever air and seaborne invasion that began the slow slog across Europe to defeat Nazi Germany

  • An enthusiast stands on the beach of Arromanches, June 4, 2019 in Normandy. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France this week to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    An enthusiast stands on the beach of Arromanches, June 4, 2019 in Normandy. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France this week to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • A young girl places a flower on the grave of a British soldier who fell in WWII, at the Bayeux War Cemetery in Bayeux, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
    A young girl places a flower on the grave of a British soldier who fell in WWII, at the Bayeux War Cemetery in Bayeux, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
  • In this August 30, 1944 file photo, American soldiers riding horses captured from the retreating Germans are met by town residents as they enter the French town of Chambois, Normandy, France. D-Day marked only the beginning of the Allied struggle to wrest Europe from the Nazis. A commemoration Tuesday, June 4, 2019 served as a reminder of this, in the shadow of bigger D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations. (AP Photo, File)
    In this August 30, 1944 file photo, American soldiers riding horses captured from the retreating Germans are met by town residents as they enter the French town of Chambois, Normandy, France. D-Day marked only the beginning of the Allied struggle to wrest Europe from the Nazis. A commemoration Tuesday, June 4, 2019 served as a reminder of this, in the shadow of bigger D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations. (AP Photo, File)
  • Soldiers from the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, climb the cliff of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    Soldiers from the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, climb the cliff of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • French President Emmanuel Macron poses for a group picture after a ceremony at the Caen prison to pay tribute to French resistants as part of D-Day ceremonies in Caen, June 5, 2019. On June 5, 1944, the Germans shot over 80 people at the prison, including 71 who have been identified as members of the French Resistance. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)
    French President Emmanuel Macron poses for a group picture after a ceremony at the Caen prison to pay tribute to French resistants as part of D-Day ceremonies in Caen, June 5, 2019. On June 5, 1944, the Germans shot over 80 people at the prison, including 71 who have been identified as members of the French Resistance. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)
  • Canadian World War II veteran Sidney Cole salutes as he attends a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The ceremony was held for Canadians who fought and died on the beaches and in the bitter bridgehead battles of Normandy during World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
    Canadian World War II veteran Sidney Cole salutes as he attends a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The ceremony was held for Canadians who fought and died on the beaches and in the bitter bridgehead battles of Normandy during World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • Cows watch WWII enthusiasts driving a jeep in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
    Cows watch WWII enthusiasts driving a jeep in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • Rangers from the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, hold the American flag after scaling the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, on June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    Rangers from the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, hold the American flag after scaling the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, on June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • French president Emmanuel Macron attends a ceremony at the Caen prison to pay tribute to French resistants as part of D-Day ceremonies in Caen, June 5, 2019. On June 5, 1944, the Germans shot over 80 people at the prison of Caen, including 71 who have been identified as members of the French Resistance. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)
    French president Emmanuel Macron attends a ceremony at the Caen prison to pay tribute to French resistants as part of D-Day ceremonies in Caen, June 5, 2019. On June 5, 1944, the Germans shot over 80 people at the prison of Caen, including 71 who have been identified as members of the French Resistance. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)
  • Floral tributes are placed at the National Guard Monument Memorial as members of the USAREUR band play in the background near Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    Floral tributes are placed at the National Guard Monument Memorial as members of the USAREUR band play in the background near Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • Canadian World War II veteran Jim Warford, center, arrives for a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The cemetery contains 2,049 headstones marking the dead of the 3rd Division and graves of 15 airmen who died on D-Day in World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
    Canadian World War II veteran Jim Warford, center, arrives for a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The cemetery contains 2,049 headstones marking the dead of the 3rd Division and graves of 15 airmen who died on D-Day in World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • World War II reenactors stand looking out to sea on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    World War II reenactors stand looking out to sea on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • A member of the Canadian Armed Forces holds a photo of a Canadian World War II soldier during a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The ceremony was held for Canadians who fell on the beaches and in the bitter bridgehead battles of Normandy during World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
    A member of the Canadian Armed Forces holds a photo of a Canadian World War II soldier during a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The ceremony was held for Canadians who fell on the beaches and in the bitter bridgehead battles of Normandy during World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • US World War II D-Day veteran Tom Rice, from Coronado, California, after parachuting in a tandem jump into a field in Carentan, Normandy, France, on June 5, 2019. Approximately 200 parachutists participated in the jump over Normandy, replicating a jump made by US soldiers on June 6, 1944 as a prelude to the seaborne invasions on D-Day. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
    US World War II D-Day veteran Tom Rice, from Coronado, California, after parachuting in a tandem jump into a field in Carentan, Normandy, France, on June 5, 2019. Approximately 200 parachutists participated in the jump over Normandy, replicating a jump made by US soldiers on June 6, 1944 as a prelude to the seaborne invasions on D-Day. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
  • A WWII enthusiast watches French and British parachutists jumping during a commemorative parachute jump over Sannerville, Normandy, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    A WWII enthusiast watches French and British parachutists jumping during a commemorative parachute jump over Sannerville, Normandy, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • D-Day veterans, front row, stand on stage during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth, England, June 5, 2019. World leaders including US President Donald Trump gathered on the south coast of England to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
    D-Day veterans, front row, stand on stage during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth, England, June 5, 2019. World leaders including US President Donald Trump gathered on the south coast of England to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
  • French enthusiast Julien watches the English Channel from Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 5, 2019, amid commemorations in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
    French enthusiast Julien watches the English Channel from Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 5, 2019, amid commemorations in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • Soldiers from the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, stand on the overlook after climbing the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    Soldiers from the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, stand on the overlook after climbing the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • People walk on Omaha Beach, Normandy, where an American flag is planted, on June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
    People walk on Omaha Beach, Normandy, where an American flag is planted, on June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history's biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
  • World War II reenactors walk along Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    World War II reenactors walk along Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
  • World War II reenactors walk down to Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
    World War II reenactors walk down to Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) — The five beaches are silent at dawn but forever haunted.

As the sun rose Thursday over the Normandy coastline where thousands of men bled and died 75 years ago, a fast-diminishing number of World War II veterans remembered D-Day, and hoped the world never forgets the sacrifices made to dismantle Nazi tyranny.

The sea of mercury blue couldn’t have been more peaceful as day broke over Omaha Beach, the first of five code-named beaches where the waters ran red the morning of June 6, 1944, when Allied forces came ashore to push the Nazis out of France.

Hundreds of people, civilians and military alike, hailing from around the world, gathered at the water’s edge, awash in emotion.

World War II reenactors stand on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn on June 6, 2019 during commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

“It is sobering, surreal to be able to stand here on this beach and admire the beautiful sunrise where they came ashore, being shot at, facing unspeakable atrocities,” said 44-year-old former US paratrooper Richard Clapp, of Julian, North Carolina.

Norwegian Sigrid Flaata drove from Oslo in a 1942 restored jeep to honor the soldiers who died on D-Day. Belgian Filip Van Hecke called his journey a “small effort to pay homage.”

After Britain’s spirited anniversary tribute Wednesday to the derring-do of the Allied forces that set off from England to defend democracy, France will host a series of solemn ceremonies Thursday in the country where so many young lives ended in sand and sea.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Charles, left, poses for a formal photograph with leaders of the other Allied Nations ahead of the National Commemorative Event marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, England, June 5, 2019. Back row from left: Canada PM Justin Trudeau, Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel, Norway PM Erna Solberg, Belgium PM Charles Michel. Front row from left: Britain’s Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, and US President Donald Trump. (Jack Hill/Pool via AP)

Leaders from the United States, Britain, Canada, France — and then-foe and now-ally Germany — will once again laud the troops who stormed the fortified Normandy beaches to help turn the tide of the war and give birth to a new Europe, since at peace.

Remembrances are taking place throughout the day at the military cemeteries where countries buried their fallen citizens.

Passing on wartime memories is especially urgent, with hundreds of veterans dying daily.

Canadian World War II veterans and other guests attend a ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. The ceremony was held for Canadians who fought and died on the beaches and in the bitter bridgehead battles of Normandy during World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

A group of five Americans parachuted into Normandy on Wednesday as part of a commemorative jump, and showed up on the beach Thursday morning still wearing their jumpsuits, all World War II-era uniforms, and held an American flag. All five said they fear that the feats and sacrifices of D-Day are being forgotten.

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump will look out over Omaha Beach, the scene of the bloodiest fighting, from the cemetery with grave markers for over 9,000 Americans, servicemen who established a blood bond between the United States and its trans-Atlantic allies.

“I have all kinds of friends buried,” said William Tymchuk, 98, who served with the 4th Canadian Armored Division during some of the deadliest fighting of the brutal campaign after the Normandy landings.

Planes fly over Rangers of the US 75th Ranger Regiment, in period dress, as they stand on the overlook after climbing the cliffs of Pointe-du-Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

“They were young. They got killed. They couldn’t come home,” Tymchuk, who was back in Normandy, continued.

“Sorry,” he said, tearing up. “They couldn’t even know what life is all about.”

The biggest-ever air and seaborne invasion took place on D-Day, involving more than 150,000 troops that day itself and many more in the ensuing Battle of Normandy. Troops started landing overnight from the air, then were joined by a massive force by sea on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats.

In this June 6, 1944, file photo, members of an American landing unit help their comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte-Mere-Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses. (Louis Weintraub/Pool Photo via AP, File)

In that defining moment of military strategy confounded by unpredictable weather and human chaos, soldiers from the United States, Britain, Canada and other Allied nations applied relentless bravery to carve out a beachhead on territory Nazi Germany had occupied for four years.

“The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory,” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower predicted in his order of the day.

The Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, hastened Germany’s defeat less than a year later.

WWII enthusiasts watch French and British parachutists jumping during a commemorative parachute jump over Sannerville, Normandy, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history’s biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Still, that single day cost the lives of 4,414 Allied troops, 2,501 of them Americans. More than 5,000 were injured. On the German side, several thousand were killed or wounded.

From there, Allied troops would advance their fight, take Paris in late summer and march in a race against the Soviets to control as much German territory as possible by the time Adolf Hitler died in his Berlin bunker and Germany surrendered in May 1945.

The final battles would divide Europe for decades between the West and the Soviet-controlled East, the face-off line of the Cold War.

Canadian World War II veterans and other guests attend a commemoration ceremony at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Reviers, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. A ceremony was held on Wednesday for Canadians who fell on the beaches and in the bitter bridgehead battles of Normandy during World War II. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Queen Elizabeth, who was an army mechanic during World War II, said that when she attended a 60th anniversary commemoration 15 years ago, many thought it might be the last such event.

“But the wartime generation — my generation — is resilient,” she said, striking an unusually personal note.

“The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten,” Elizabeth said. “It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country — indeed the whole free world — that I say to you all, thank you.”

A small wooden cross that reads: “In memory of a fallen soldier no matter the nation” rests at the burial of a German soldier who died during WWII at the Bayeux War Cemetery in Bayeux, Normandy, France, June 5, 2019. Extensive commemorations are being held in the UK and France to honor the nearly 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and other nations who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 in history’s biggest amphibious invasion. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
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