Next month marks the 75th anniversary of D-day, which led to the liberation of Europe and the end of World War II. On June 6, 1944, nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of coast in Normandy, France, to fight Nazi Germany. It’s regarded as one of the great military invasions in history. Here are five locations that will commemorate the anniversary.
This year’s events will include parades, fireworks displays, air shows, military reenactments and more. The official commemoration on June 6 will bring together heads of state and government officials for an invitation-only ceremony. However, nearby areas — including D-day sites and museums — will be open to the public. Other events include the Normandy World War II International Film Festival on June 2-7, the Normandy World Peace Forum on June 4 and 5 and the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial on June 6.
Across the English Channel, a D-day 75 Revival will be held June 8 and 9 in Southwick, near Portsmouth. The two-day event includes talks by military historians, 1940s school lessons, a World War II vehicle display, wartime singalong, swing dance lessons, and free walking history tours.
A Daks Over Normandy event will kick off June 2-5 at Duxford Airfield before moving to the Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Normandy, France, June 5-9. The sky will be filled with Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakotas (“Daks” for short) flown in from around the globe, including Europe, the United States and even Australia.
As part of that event, about 250 men and women in World War II-style Allied uniforms will board an aircraft in England — exactly as they dide 75 years before — and fly across the English Channel to jump into the historic drop zones of Normandy. Organizers are calling it a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The National D-day Memorial in Bedford, Va., on June 4-9 will observe the anniversary with ceremonies, displays, aerial tributes and reenactments. The memorial was dedicated in 2001 in honor of the “Bedford Boys,” 19 (out of 30) soldiers from Bedford who were killed in the Normandy invasion. A parade in downtown Bedford will be held June 8, while in nearby Lynchburg, Va., the U.S. Air Force Heritage Brass Band will perform a free concert.
A D-day Plus 75 event will take place May 31 and June 1 at the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum on the Muskegon waterfront. The LST 393, or landing ship tank, was at Omaha Beach on D-day and carried more than 5,000 Nazi soldiers to prisoner-of-war camps in Britain. It was later brought to Muskegon, where it was converted into a museum. The ship’s two-day D-day celebration will feature a USO-style dance as well as Air Raid Muskegon, at which World War II reenactors will fire hundreds of blanks at authentic Warbirds to “defend” the historic warship.
The Canadian government will lead an official delegation to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where two public events — one at Sailors’ Memorial in Point Pleasant Park on June 5 and the other at Halifax Citadel National Historic Site on June 6 — are planned to commemorate the 75th anniversary. Other events include a Royal Canadian Military Institute commemorative gala on May 15 in Toronto and a candlelight ceremony on May 30 at God’s Acre Veterans Cemetery in Victoria, British Columbia.