D-Day Spirit Of Remembrance Lives 2021
In a small Normandy town where paratroopers landed within the early hours of D-Day, applause broke the silence to honor Charles Shay. He was the å veteran attending a ceremony in Carentan commemorating the 77th anniversary of the assault that helped bring an end to war II.
Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s D-Day commemorations are happening with travel restrictions that have prevented veterans or families of fallen soldiers from the US, Britain and other allied countries from making the trip to France. Only a couple of officials were allowed exceptions.
Shay lives in Normandy. He landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. And now, he recalls the “many good friends” also he lost on the battlefield.
Under a bright sun, the 96-year-old Penobscot Native American from Indian Island, Maine, stood steadily while the hymns of the Allied countries were played Friday ahead of the monument commemorating the assault in Carentan that allowed the Allies to determine endless front joining nearby Utah Beach to Omaha Beach.
Shay regretted that the pandemic “is interrupting everything.” he’s expected to be the sole veteran at Sunday’s anniversary day ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer.
Shay’s lone presence is all the more poignant because the number of survivors of the epochal battle dwindles. just one veteran now remains from the French commando unit that joined US, British, Canadian and other allied troops in storming Normandy’s code-named beaches.
While France is getting to open up to vaccinated visitors starting next week, that comes too late for the D-Day anniversary. So for the second year during a row, most public commemoration events are cancelled. a couple of solemn ceremonies are maintained, with dignitaries and a couple of guests only.
Some French and a couple of other war II history enthusiasts from neighboring European countries gathered in Normandy.
Driving restored jeeps, wearing old uniforms or joyfully eating at the newly reopened terraces of restaurants, they’re contributing to revive the commemorations’ special atmosphere — and keeping alive the memory of June 6, 1944.
“In France, people that remember these men, they kept them on the brink of their heart,” Shay said. “And they remember what they did for them. and that i don’t think the French will ever forget.”
On Saturday morning, people in dozens of war II vehicles, from motorcycles to jeeps and trucks, gathered during a field in Colleville-Montgomery to parade down the nearby roads along Sword Beach to the sounds of a pipe band.
Henri-Jean Renaud, 86, remembers D-Day love it was yesterday. He was a young boy and was hidden in his family range in Sainte-Mere-Eglise when quite 800 planes bringing US paratroopers flew over the town while German soldiers fired at them with machine guns.
“I came here many times. the primary thing I do is check out that tree,” he said. “That’s always thereto young man that I’m thinking of that. He was told: ‘You’re getting to jump within the middle of the night during a country you don’t know’… He died and his feet never touched (French) soil, which is extremely moving to me.”
More than 12,000 soldiers were buried temporarily in Sainte-Mere-Eglise during and after the Battle of Normandy, before being moved to their final resting place.
“Some, especially at the start when there have been no coffins yet, had been buried within the ground. that they had become the Normandy soil,” he added, during a voice filled by emotion.
On D-Day itself, quite 150,000 Allied troops landed on beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. The Battle of Normandy hastened Germany’s defeat, which came but a year later.
That single day cost the lives of 4,414 Allied troops & 2,501 of them Americans. quite 5,000 were injured. On the German side, several thousand were killed or wounded.
This year, Col. Kevin Sharp came with a delegation of three other US military officers from the 101st Airborne Division, based in Kentucky, to attend Friday’s commemorations in Carentan — an equivalent division that took part within the D-Day operations there. His delegation received special, last-minute permission to return to France despite virus restrictions.