World leaders including President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron will attend ceremonies Thursday on the beaches of Normandy, where 75 years ago Allied troops landed to push Nazi forces out of France.
At a time of increasing international discord, the leaders will seek to show that transatlantic harmony remains intact as they meet for a second day to salute the heroism of the soldiers who surged onto the Normandy sands on June 6, 1944.
On an occasion that will mix high politics with poignant historical remembrance, Macron will first meet British Prime Minister Theresa May to launch the construction of a British memorial at Ver-sur-Mer.
Macron and Trump will then hold private talks followed by a working lunch after a ceremony at the US military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.
The site overlooking Omaha Beach holds 9,400 graves — just 40 percent of the American forces killed during the weeks of fighting that followed the D-Day landings.
Both leaders will give speeches, while the French president will also bestow the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour, on five American veterans.
D-Day is seen by many as one of the great symbols of transatlantic cooperation, as young American servicemen sacrificed their lives in the struggle to end the Third Reich’s grip on Europe.
Tens of thousands of French and foreign visitors have converged on the Normandy coast for this year’s commemorations to honour the dwindling number of firsthand witnesses to the fighting.
But the Atlantic alliance has been tested by Trump’s prickly relations with Europe, as the two sides feud on issues ranging from Iran and Russia to global trade and climate change.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend a ceremony at Juno Beach, where Canadian forces were in charge of the assault.