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D-Day anniversary: How France will commemorate 75 years since Normandy landings

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D-Day anniversary: How France will commemorate 75 years since Normandy landings
A photo exhibition dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings will take place in train stations across France. Photo: SNCF
12:12 CEST+02:00
On June 6th, 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops invaded the northern French coast, marking the start of France's liberation from Nazi occupiers. It is remembered as a defining moment of World War II. Here's how 'the longest day' will be commemorated in France this year.
For decades, French presidents didn't officially commemorate the D-Day landings, when 150,000 Allied soldiers stormed France's Atlantic coast by sea and by air.
 
French Resistance hero and president Charles de Gaulle refused to honour the Allied operation in which he was relegated to a secondary role.
 
However since then things have changed, with commemorative events lasting several weeks taking place in the Normandy region to honour the brave actions of the soldiers who played a role in a pivotal moment of World War II. 
 
Donald Trump returns to France
 
Starting from Wednesday, US President Donald Trump will attend two days of memorials in Britain and France for the 75th anniversary of the world's biggest naval operation, which signalled the start of efforts to liberate western Europe.
 
On June 6th, Trump will visit Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings accompanied by French President Emmanuel Macron. 
 
 
Trump to return to France to commemorate 75th anniversary of Normandy landings Photo: AFP
 
However there are fears that the commemorations will not be the main focus of Trump's visit to Europe. 
 
European leaders and Trump are at odds on a number of issues, any one of which has the potential to become a public source of friction at this week's ceremonies.
 
"There's a high risk that Donald Trump uses the ceremonies to remind everyone about the dependence of Europe on the United States for its security and defence," Francois Heisbourg, a former French diplomat and head of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told AFP.
 
However a source in the French presidency said Macron was hoping to use the opportunity to bridge some of his differences with Washington.
   
The D-Day commemorations are a "good opportunity to celebrate this common victory and to explore some of the priority issues between us to try to bring our positions closer together," an aide said on condition of anonymity.
 
World leaders aside, Normandy has been commemorating the landings with its D-Day festival since May 20th and will continue to do so right up to June 16th. 
 
This year marks the 13th edition of the festival since 2007 when it was introduced to Normandy, to commemorate the anniversary of the Allied Landings in Normandy during World War Two. You can see the full programme of events here.
 
A photo exhibition at Saint-Lazare station dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Photo: SNCF
 
It marks an important part of France's history and the festival includes film screenings, historical walks, reenactments and theatrical performances, making this one of the best times to visit Normandy for history lovers.
 
And over June 5th and 6th, there's no shortage of activities. 
 
Among the evens will be a reception for British veterans on Wednesday June 5th in the town of Bénouville in the Calvados department of Normandy.
 
In Caen in Calvados there will be a ceremony in the British Garden of the Caen Memorial, with veterans and British authorities present while in Carentan-les-Marais there will be fireworks at the harbour at 11:30 pm.
 
On Thursday, on top of the US president's visit to Normandy, there will be events across the region, including a mass in honour of those who fought, ceremonies dedicated to the part played by the British and Dutch, and more fireworks in Arromanches-les-Bains, as well as a British ceremony at Bayeux Cathedral. 
 
There will also be a photography exhibition dedicated to the anniversary at train stations across France, including Paris Saint-Lazare, Caen, Le Havre, Rouen, Nantes and Le Mans. 
 
"This exhibition will serve to remind us of something essential: the freedom that we know, that we enjoy in France, and across most of Europe today, was born here, on our beaches," said Marc Lefèvre, a leading French politician in the La Manche department of Normandy. 
 
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Jim D - 03 Jun 2019 15:08
Speaking as an American it is too bad that Trump will be there. His very presence will desecrate that sacred ground. Maybe it will rain or his bone spurs will keep him from attending.
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