The leaders of France and Britain laid wreath at the first stone of a new memorial, paying tribute to the 22,000 soldiers under British command who were killed on June 6, 1944, and in the ensuing battle for Normandy and the liberation of Europe.
After inaugurating the memorial that overlooks Gold Beach, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron briefly spoke to D-Day veterans.
The Normandy landings were months in the planning and kept secret from Nazi Germany despite a huge trans-Atlantic mobilization of industry and manpower.
Under the cover of darkness, thousands of Allied paratroopers jumped behind Germany’s coastal defences. Then, as day broke, warships pounded German positions before hundreds of landing craft disgorged the infantry troops under a barrage of machine-gun fire and artillery.
The devastation of the two world wars fostered a decades-long era of peace and cooperation between European capitals, giving rise to what is now the European Union.
But even as Britain now tries to sever its ties with the bloc, Macron said some ties between France and Britain were indestructible.