French officials are using the 70th anniversary of the bloody D-Day landings in Normandy to make a final push to have the beaches there classified as World Heritage sites by the United Nations.
The effort got a boost on Friday when the French Committee on World Heritage Assets announced the beaches were among three sites it had recommended be submitted to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for consideration. French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti must still sign off on the decision, but is expected to do so soon, French radio station RFI reported.
Locals hailed the announcement, though it appears unlikely the designation could come before the June 6th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France that saw thousands killed.
“Our candidacy speaks to the whole world, because the whole world comes to our beaches,” Lower Normandy Regional President Laurent Beauvais wrote in a statement. “They are symbols of peace and reconciliation between former enemies.”
Being named on the UNESCO list, which already has 962 sites across the globe, including Versailles Palace near Paris, would not be a purely bureaucratic designation for Normandy. Local towns benefit from extra tourism that Heritage status brings hope the designation could attract more visitors at a time when their most frequent visitors, veterans and their families, are slowly dying off.
If Filippetti gives her OK to the committee’s recommendations, the beaches could be submitted to UNESCO, which would make the final decision. The city of Metz and sites associated with World War I were also nominated by the committee.
Normandy has also created an online petition encouraging the D-Day beaches be named on the Unesco list. See it here.