A special public ceremony is scheduled for today to observe the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy, France, landings that marked a turning point in World War II in Europe.
The ceremony will start at 1 p.m. at Rio Rancho Veterans Monument Park, 950 Pinetree Road, adjacent to Esther Bone Memorial Library.
The event, which is sponsored by Chapter 176 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in coordination with the Rio Rancho Parks, Recreation and Community Service Department, will feature several guest speakers and presentations.
The actual date of the beginning of the invasion was June 6, 1944.
Michael Abrams described the event in a recent copyrighted story for Stars and Stripes. Here is that account, which is used with permission from Stars and Stripes:
“Seventy years ago Friday, the largest armada ever assembled set off from England for the French coast.
“On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops, supported by 700 warships and carried by 2,500 landing craft, assaulted a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast in an effort to push the Nazis out from occupied France and drive into Germany.
“Earlier that day, thousands of paratroops landed behind the enemy’s defensive lines to protect the armada’s flanks. Despite heavy losses within the first six days of the assault, 326,000 men, 54,000 vehicles and 104,000 tons of materiel came ashore. But the battle for Normandy was far from over.
“Twenty days into the operation, the Allies had advanced only a dozen miles inland. By July, the breakout from Normandy had begun. Troops fought the battle among the hedgerows and captured St. Lo.
“By month’s end, they were at the edge of Brittany. In August, Brittany was in Allied hands, and it was on to Paris, which was liberated on Aug. 25.
“The Allied advance suffered a setback in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden and stalled in December at the legendary Battle of the Bulge.
“On March 7, 1945, the U.S. 9th Armored Division captured the bridge at Remagen, Germany, and by the end of the month all of the Rhine was in Allied hands. The march across Germany had begun.
“On May 9, 1945, just a little more than 11 months after D-Day, the Nazis surrendered.
“Now, seven decades later, feted by still-thankful French residents, D-Day veterans, their families and friends, along with tourists and history buffs, will return to the invasion beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – to commemorate the Allies’ efforts and sacrifices.”