After commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the turning point of the Pacific in World War II at Midway last week, military commands around the world also marked the 70th anniversary of the turning point in Europe, June 6—D-Day.
In Naval District Washington (NDW), service members and civilian personnel at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis marked the D-Day anniversary with a six-mile road march on the installation and a ceremony featuring two World War II veterans.
“It was a great opportunity for us to bring our community together to reflect on the day,” said Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Annapolis Fitness Director Antonne Compton. “I feel that the road march is a great way to have a time of reflection; it was very peaceful.”
Nearly 100 people participated in the two-hour march, during which Compton called cadence to keep up marchers’ motivation. At the end of the march, Compton started a special ‘thank you’ cadence as each participant greeted veterans Maj. (Ret.) Joseph J. Ball, an Army field artilleryman who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and Army Air Corps veteran Major L. Anderson, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who performed maintenance on B-25 bomber aircraft with the 477th Bomber Group.
“It was a huge morale booster for our community and everyone here,” said Compton, who called the anniversary march a great success. “Everyone was truly moved by the event.”
At Omaha Beach in Normandy, France—the place President Barack Obama called “democracy’s beachhead”—thousands gathered together with veterans of the battle to pay respect to the troops who fell there, and to celebrate what was accomplished during Operation Overlord.
Re-enactors staged beach landings and airborne jumps, joined by active duty service members and even a 93-year-old veteran of the 101st Airborne Division who parachuted into Normandy for a second time, this time to cheers instead of combat.
“Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are,” Obama said in a speech. “We don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is. We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril. We come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world.”
More than 160,000 allied troops launched the invasion into Europe along a 50-mile stretch of fortified beaches near Normandy, supported by 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft. More than 9,000 troops were killed in the assault, but allied forces established a tenuous foothold in German-controlled territory by day’s end.
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