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Macron praises “spirit of sacrifice” by launching D-Day commemorations

Photo: Benoit Tessier Agence France-Presse “I know our country has strong youth […] ready for the same spirit of sacrifice as its elders,” declared Emmanuel Macron.

Francesco Fontemaggi in Saint-Lô

Published on June 5

  • Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute on Wednesday to the civilian victims of Allied bombings and praised the “spirit of sacrifice” of France's liberators by launching commemorations of the Allied landings of June 6, 1944, in which his American and Ukrainian counterparts will notably participate, in a demonstration of unity against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

“I know our country is strong in its youth [… ] lends itself to the same spirit of sacrifice as its elders”, declared the Head of State during a first tribute in Plumelec to the Breton maquisards and first paratroopers of Free France within the British special forces.

“As the dangers mount”, “you remind us that we are ready to make the same sacrifices to defend what is most dear to us: our land of France and our republican values”, he added to the units of elite represented.

The Normandy landings, organized in the greatest secrecy by the Americans, the British and the men of General de Gaulle, would open the way to defeat of Nazi Germany.

It was in Plumelec that “the first French soldier of the Landings fell”, Corporal Emile Bouétard, who had joined England, recalled Emmanuel Macron.

Veterans still alive are in the spotlight for what will be, due to their age, the last major meeting in which they will be able to participate. Dozens of American, Canadian and British veterans, some of whom participated in the “longest day”, have already arrived in Normandy.

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“Capital of ruins”

In the afternoon, Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the civilian victims of Allied bombings.

“These deaths were the victims of our fight for freedom and the homeland,” said the head of state in Saint-Lô.

“Capital of ruins”, according to the expression of the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, Saint-Lô, 90% destroyed, is the symbol of all the cities (Caen, Lisieux, Flers, Le Havre) which were bombed during the operations for the Liberation of France.

There were between 50,000 and 70,000 civilian victims of Allied bombing in France, including 10,000 in Normandy alone in the summer of 1944.

The United Kingdom also commemorates the event. King Charles, currently being treated for cancer, presided over a ceremony in Portsmouth, southern England. “Let us recommit ourselves to always remember, cherish and honor those who have served,” he said to a crowd waving thousands of small British flags.

He will meet on Thursday on the beaches of Normandy (north-west) the American President, Joe Biden, who arrived in Paris in the morning, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Italian Head of State Sergio Mattarella but also the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The American president is to speak at the official ceremonies on the beaches of Utah and Omaha Beach where “73,000 courageous Americans” landed to “pave the way for liberation of France and Europe”, specified the White House.

On the sidelines of this program, he must meet with Mr. Zelensky, to see “how we can continue to deepen our support,” she added. The two men will meet at the G7 summit in Italy, from June 13 to 15.

Strong symbol, Russia, ally of the United States and the United Kingdom against Nazi Germany, was formally excluded from the ceremonies due to its invasion of Ukraine.

“Unfailing support” for kyiv

The French presidency has not hidden its desire to display Western unity on this conflict. Mr. Macron, who will welcome Mr. Zelensky at the Élysée on Friday, must in particular clarify his intentions regarding the possible sending of military instructors to Ukraine.

7 June, Joe Biden is due to deliver a speech at Pointe du Hoc, still in Normandy, “on the importance of defending freedom and democracy”, according to the White House. A message that he intends to intensify in view of the new presidential election in November.

Received on Saturday in Paris, Mr. Biden will be welcomed at the Arc de Triomphe, before interviews and a banquet at the Élysée with Emmanuel Macron for his first state visit to France.

“While 80 years after the Liberation of Europe, war has returned to the continent, the two presidents will discuss the unfailing and long-term support to be given to Ukraine,” said the French presidency.< /p>

“This close coordination on international crises will be intended to prepare for the next international events, in particular the G7 summit”, in mid-June in Italy, and that of NATO”, in July in Washington, added this source. »

Wednesday evening, still in Normandy, Emmanuel Macron will pay tribute to the inmates of Caen prison, mainly resistance fighters, shot by the Germans during the Landings.< /p>

Before the European elections, which will be held on Sunday in France and look bad for his side, the French president has decided to extend the commemorations this year over three days, until Friday.

In the campaign for his re-election, Joe Biden hopes to take advantage of this visit to France to distance himself from his rival Donald Trump, entangled in his legal setbacks.

< p>After a visit on Thursday to the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, in Normandy, he must also lay a wreath on Sunday at the American cemetery of Bois Belleau, in Aisne, in tribute to the soldiers who fell during the First World War .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116