Updated on 18 November 2020
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Every year, ceremonies are held across Normandy to pay tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of those who fought here in 1944. Every five years, however, ceremonies take on an international dimension. The 75th anniversary of D-Day in June 2019 featured military displays and reenactments, parades, fireworks and many other festivities.
On 6 June 2019, an array of commemorative D-Day ceremonies took place before world leaders and dignitaries. It was poignant, for this was possibly the last time they would be among many of of the surviving veterans – often in wheelchairs – representing the ‘Greatest Generation.’ The main ceremony for 2019 was held in Courseulles-sur-Mer (Juno Beach, the Canadian sector) and presided over by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In Ver-sur-Mer (Gold Beach), the foundation stone for the future British Normandy Memorial was laid by then-Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron.
At the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer (Omaha Beach), President Macron stood on the podium alongside US President Donald Trump for the impressive ceremony. Then-Prime Minister Theresa May, alongside Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and First Scottish Minister Nicola Sturgeon, attended a service at the largest of the Commonwealth cemeteries in Bayeux.
Synchronised musical firework displays were set off along the coast, a giant picnic took place on Omaha Beach, ‘Liberty Balls’ were held, and several hundred paratroopers from different countries jumped out over the town of Sainte-Mère-Eglise near Utah Beach, celebrating solidarity and international brotherhood. Commemorations and festivities took place throughout summer 2019 but mainly around 5-9 June.
Our selection of events not to miss…
Normandy for Peace World Forum
The Normandy for Peace World Forum was created in 2016 on the back of an initiative to promote the values of peace and freedom to the general public and in particular with the young in mind. In 2019, it was held in the Women’s Abbey in Caen and consisted of a series of conferences that brought together leading international thinkers and five Nobel Peace Prize winners. These great minds were able to shed light on the current situation in various parts of the globe, and their debates focused on Colombia. The programme also included cultural activities and social events.