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'France Will Never Forget': Emmanuel Macron At D-Day Celebrations; Biden, Zelenskyy Present, Russia Snubbed Of Invite

France did not invite World War II ally Russia, citing its "war of aggression against Ukraine that has intensified in recent weeks".

AP
Visuals from the D-Day celebrations in France. Photo: AP
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France celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Liberation of France, the D-Day generation on Thursday. President Emmanuel Macron told the D-Day veterans that the nation "will never forget" their battle to liberate Europe from the Nazis.

The Normandy beaches remember the long washed away blood and boot-steps of D-Day soldiers and where their exploits helped end Adolf Hitler's tyranny.

The D-Day generations gathered together to honour the heroes, the future generations.

The generations however, look at the the instance of also having to see war again in Europe, in Ukraine. The presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the D-Day commemorations with global leaders -- including US President Joe Biden -- who are supporting his country's fight against Russia will fuse together the World War II's past with the fraught present.

Notably, France -- the host of the event -- did not invite World War II ally Russia, citing its "war of aggression against Ukraine that has intensified in recent weeks".

'WE WILL NEVER FORGET': EMMANUEL MACRON

Macron, in an elaborate post on X in French, said, "In Normandy, but also in Brittany, we will continue to honor all the memories of those who contributed to our liberation: who stood up to fight Nazism, who fought on all fronts, who suffered, who took all risks to ease the suffering."

He mentioned the fighters who came to Normandy "to defend the flame of Liberty" that was honoured on June 6, "in the presence of many heads of state and government, on the beach of 'bloody' Omaha".

"We will never forget the sacrifice of the thousands of young soldiers from across the Atlantic, across the Channel or overseas who died on June 6 on the beaches of Normandy: Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold and Juno," the French president added.

Macron said that it is important to help younger generations to take ownership of this period from which the nation has recovered and learned lessons, "to reflect on the weight of individual choices in period of torment".

"May the example of these heroines and heroes strengthen our determination and our confidence in a future of peace and security," Macron added.

KING CHARLES III, BIDEN & ZELENSKYY AT D-DAY EVENTS

King Charles III shrugged off his recent cancer diagnosis to attend the ceremony for British veterans, though he chose to skip the larger international ceremony a few miles away.

He visited northern France to honour the 22,442 British troops who died in the Battle of Normandy. Charles expressed his gratitude to the old soldiers and their missing comrades, perhaps for the last time, during the ceremony at the newly completed British Normandy Memorial.

King Charles III said that while the number of living veterans was dwindling, “our obligation to remember what they stood for and what they achieved for us all can never diminish”.

“Eighty years ago on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, our nation – and those which stood alongside it – faced what my grandfather, King George VI, described as the supreme test," Charles said.

He further pointed that, “How fortunate we were, and the entire free world, that a generation of men and women in the United Kingdom and other allied nations did not flinch when the moment came to face that test."

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden marked the 80th anniversary by saying that "we will not walk away" from the defense of Ukraine and allow Russia to threaten more of Europe.

“To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable,” Biden said while addressing a ceremony at the American cemetery in Normandy, adding that, "If we were to do that, it means we'd be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches."

Biden termed the D-Day to be a "powerful illustration of how alliances, real alliances make us stronger", saying that it was a lesson that he prays "Americans never forget".

While the Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that this "event and day serve as a reminder of the courage and determination demonstrated in the pursuit of freedom and democracy".

"Allies defended Europe's freedom then, and Ukrainians do so now. Unity prevailed then, and true unity can prevail today," he added.

The 80th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion on D-Day that punched through Hitler's western defences and helped precipitate Nazi Germany's surrender 11 months later brings mixed emotions for French survivors of the Battle of Normandy. They remain eternally grateful for their liberation but cannot forget its steep cost in French lives.

(With AP inputs)

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