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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Trump, Macron, Merkel, May and Queen attend stirring commemoration marking 75th anniversary of D-Day

PORTSMOUTH, England — British royalty and leaders from around the world gathered here Wednesday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, honoring the men and women who participated in what is still the largest naval, air and land operation in history. 

President Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May were among the 16 world leaders who attended events throughout the day to mark the anniversary of the allied invasion of northern France.
The commemorations began in the morning at an amphitheater, near the Portsmouth harbor, where Queen Elizabeth II wore a bright pink dress and sat next t
It was a poignant affair, with military bands playing somber music as black and white film clips broadcast from the stage, showing the faces of young men running onto beaches and readying to jump out of planes.
When Trump took the stage, he read part of a prayer that President Franklin D. Roosevelt read over the airwaves to the country on the eve of D-Day. “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron read a letter, in French, from a resistance fighter named Henri Fertet, who was executed at age 16. “I am going to die for my country,” he wrote to his parents. “I do not doubt that you will remain courageous, if only out of love for me.”
o Trump and Prince Charles, her son. Leaders from Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Slovakia were in attendance. 
Addressing the crowd from her box, the queen said that when she attended events marking the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, some thought they would be her last. “But the wartime generation — my generation — is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today,” she said.
“On behalf of the entire country — indeed the whole free world — that I say to you all, thank you,” she said. 
Macron finished with “Vive la France” before exiting the stage. He will host commemorative events on the other side of the English Channel on Thursday.
After the speeches, Trump and the queen met some of the 300 veterans in attendance who took part in the effort to liberate France from Nazi control. Some of them will then board a ship to repeat their journey to Normandy.
Arthur Hampson, who turned 93 on Wednesday, was one of those who shuttled troops and tanks across the English Channel. On D-Day, he was an 18-year-old midshipman on the landing craft LCT 313, ferrying Canadian soldiers and Sherman DD tanks to Juno Beach, one of the five landing beaches. They successfully landed four of the tanks, but one fell into the sea, and two crew members drowned. 
Hampson told The Washington Post: “I don’t regard myself as a hero. We had a job to do. We didn’t want to let anyone down. But we also didn’t want to die.” He returned to Portsmouth that same night and sipped a quiet pint in a pub. He recalled thinking to himself, “I can’t believe what we’d gone through that day.”
On June 6, 1944, about 7,000 naval vessels, including battleships, destroyers and assault craft, attacked German positions on the Normandy coast and landed more than 132,000 ground troops on the beaches.
Historians consider the D-Day invasion “the beginning of the end of the war” and stress that it was an international effort. The fighting in Normandy went on for a month

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