World leaders pay tribute at D-Day ceremonies

Friday 06 June 2014 19.15
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French President Francois Hollande lays a wreath to civillian victims of World War II in Caen, Normandy
French President Francois Hollande lays a wreath to civillian victims of World War II in Caen, Normandy
Barack Obama and Francois Hollande attended a ceremony at the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach
Barack Obama and Francois Hollande attended a ceremony at the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach
Hundreds of veterans of the invasion are attending the ceremonies to mark D-Day in France
Hundreds of veterans of the invasion are attending the ceremonies to mark D-Day in France
Prime ministers of Australia, Britain and France attended a service in Bayeux
Prime ministers of Australia, Britain and France attended a service in Bayeux
Soldiers stand during a joint French-Dutch D-Day commemoration ceremony in Arromanches
Soldiers stand during a joint French-Dutch D-Day commemoration ceremony in Arromanches
88-year-old D-Day veteran Victor Walker arrives at Bayeux Cathedral for a remembrance service
88-year-old D-Day veteran Victor Walker arrives at Bayeux Cathedral for a remembrance service
An 89-year-old war veteran meets Britain's Prince Charles after parachuting into the French village of Ranville ahead of D-Day anniversary events
An 89-year-old war veteran meets Britain's Prince Charles after parachuting into the French village of Ranville ahead of D-Day anniversary events
French President Francois Hollande (L) escorts Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting and dinner at the Elysee Palace
French President Francois Hollande (L) escorts Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting and dinner at the Elysee Palace
A piper plays a lament on Gold Beach as landing craft from the Royal Marines arrive at Arromanches, France
A piper plays a lament on Gold Beach as landing craft from the Royal Marines arrive at Arromanches, France
British soldiers stand on the debark ship as they watch fireworks in Arromanches, France
British soldiers stand on the debark ship as they watch fireworks in Arromanches, France
D-Day veteran Bill Price, 99, on Gold Beach after the last ever flag raising ceremony by the Surrey Normandy Veterans Association
D-Day veteran Bill Price, 99, on Gold Beach after the last ever flag raising ceremony by the Surrey Normandy Veterans Association
D-Day veterans from the Surrey Normandy Veterans Association take part in the last ever flag raising ceremony
D-Day veterans from the Surrey Normandy Veterans Association take part in the last ever flag raising ceremony
World leaders pay tribute at D-Day ceremonies
World leaders pay tribute at D-Day ceremonies

US President Barack Obama has paid tribute to the men who breached "Hitler's Wall" and stormed ashore on D-Day in June 1944.

He said their sacrifice bought a still-evolving age of democracy and freedom.

Mr Obama was speaking at a ceremony in northern France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion.

"By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought and won - a piece of Europe once again liberated and free.

"Hitler's Wall was breached, letting loose Patton's Army to pour into France," Mr Obama said at the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach.

The main D-Day ceremony is taking place on Sword Beach in Normandy today. 

French President Francois Hollande opened the ceremonies, paying homage to civilians and soldiers who lost their lives on the day "that changed the world".

"This day, which began in chaos and fire, would end in blood and tears, tears and pain, tears and joy at the end of 24 hours that changed the world and forever marked Normandy," President Hollande said. 

Elsewhere, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he felt a mixture of "awe and gratitude" as he met veterans of the D-Day landings.

Mr Cameron said it was "incredibly moving" to be at the events in Normandy and it was "humbling" for people of his generation.

With Russian president Vladimir Putin's presence highlighting current divisions in Europe over Ukraine, Mr Cameron stressed the role played by Russia in liberating the continent from Nazi tyranny.

"I think the clear evidence of what happened in 1944 and 1945 is the importance of standing up together for freedom and security," he said in Bayeux.

"And we should remember that, and the importance of NATO and thinking forward to the NATO summit in Wales in September.

"But I think it's right today, of all days, to remember all those who served and all those who died.

"Yes, of course we have our disagreements today with Russia, but we should never forget that Russia - the Soviet Union - was an ally of Britain and America, the Free French, Canadian and Australian forces, that liberated this continent from the tyranny of Nazism."

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent this letter 5 June 1944, just hours prior to the D-day landings in Normandy. 

Eisenhower's letter