World War II veterans travel to France to commemorate 80th anniversary of D-Day

More than 60 World War II veterans set off Friday from Dallas for France, where they will participate in ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The group ranges in age from 96 to 107 years old, according to American Airlines, which will fly them first to Paris. the journey One of several Which takes veterans to France for remembrance.

The group will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Sourens American Cemetery, visit the Eiffel Tower and join a daily ceremony known as le Ravivage de la Flamme, which honors fallen French service members at the Arc de Triomphe.

World War II veteran Martin Sylvester is helped at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas, on May 31, 2024. A group of World War II veterans are being flown from Texas to France where they will participate in 80th anniversary celebrations. Anniversary of D-Day.

L.M. Otero/A.B

They then head to the Normandy region to participate in events that include wreath-laying ceremonies at Omaha and Utah Beach, two of the landing sites for Allied forces.

Nearly 160,000 Allied soldiers, 73,000 from the United States, Landed in Normandy On June 6, 1944, in a massive amphibious operation intended to break through the heavily fortified German defenses and begin the liberation of Western Europe.

A total of 4,415 Allied soldiers were killed on D-Day itself, according to Nechology projectAmong them are about 2,500 Americans. More than 5,000 people were injured.

The group traveling from Dallas includes six Medal of Honor recipients from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam who want to honor World War II veterans.

There are also two Rosie the Riveters representing women who worked in factories and shipyards during the war.

Hundreds of thousands of military women from allied nations also served in critical non-combat roles as codebreakers, ship planners, radar operators, and cartographers.

Various ceremonies are held to mark this day in France and to thank the veterans, some of whom will make the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean despite advanced age, fatigue and physical difficulties.

“We will never forget. We have to tell them,” Philippe Etienne, president of the Liberation Mission organizing the commemoration, told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, with nearly 100,000 American World War II veterans still alive, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans is working to preserve their memories.

To reach new generations, the museum sends study programs to schools across the country, and contains immersive exhibits such as those on the Pacific War.

“I think this story is vital for them going forward,” Michael Arvits, a teacher at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans, told CBS News. “In a world that is constantly changing, facing new threats, and some old ones.”

Steve Ellis served aboard an invasion landing ship in the Pacific during World War II, and recently shared his stories with seniors from Holy Cross High School.

“That first time in the fight, do you remember being nervous, or do you feel like your training prepared you for that moment, or what were your feelings during it?” One student asked.

“For me, and I think most of my contemporaries, when we’re in combat, we don’t — we don’t get nervous at all, we just do our job,” Ellis replied.

Barry Petersen contributed to this report.

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