June 6, 2014, D-Day, marks the 70th anniversary of the successful Allied Invasion of Normandy, France. The military operation, though costly in human life, marked a decisive turning point in World War II and signaled the beginning of the end for Hitler. The invasion was the “largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944,” according to the D-Day Memorial site. Indeed, the landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men.
Given the historical and cultural significance of D-Day, the event has rightly yielded a number of memorials and commemorative anniversary events all around the world. The D-Day Memorial site in Bedford, Virginia has put together a day that includes the laying of wreaths by D-Day units, veteran oral history stations, a USO show, and displays by living historians. Meanwhile the National World War II Museum in New Orleans will kick off the day with a 6 a.m. ceremony and moment of silence, followed by a ceremony and opportunity to board an authentic replica of an LCVP (landing craft vehicle, personnel).
The French have invited back a World War II-era Douglas C-47, currently housed at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, N.Y. , to France for the 70th-anniversary festivities and to (again) release paratroopers over the original jump zone at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, and Normandy’s many D-Day sites and museums will allow visitors to explore old army bunkers and wall defenses along the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches.
Meanwhile, out on the open seas, Celebrity Cruises is helping commemorate the historic day with several shore excursions to the D-Day Beach and Memorial. One will take visitors to the Caen Memorial, a “Museum for Peace;” the American Cemetery of Coleville located near Omaha Beach in the village of Saint Laurent; and the Sainte Mere L’Eglise, famous for its church, which was damaged during the dislodging of German snipers from the belfry.