D-Day Commemorations Begin with the Raising of Stars and Stripes

Mike O'Brien

Commemorations of the 69th anniversary of D-Day began on Thursday in France with the stars-and-stripes being raised in a quiet ceremony at the American cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach.

Under a bright blue sky, tourists mainly from the U.S. gathered to witness the flag-raising surrounded by rows of white marble crosses.

The cemetery marks the spot where U.S. servicemen and women were killed during the Allied invasion of Normandy that started on June 6, 1944.

A full day of ceremonies including marches, concerts and fireworks has been planned across the Normandy region.

More than 150,000 troops, mainly American, British and Canadian, gave their lives in the liberation of German-occupied western Europe during World War II.

During a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial overlooking Omaha Beach about two dozen U.S. vets, some dressed in their uniforms complete with medals, stood and saluted, the Associated Press reports.

The cemetery holds the remains of more than 9,000 Americans who died during the fierce battle to storm the French beach under relentless Nazi fire.