The courage and sacrifice of American troops was honoured by Presidents Hollande and Obama at a special Franco-US ceremony in Colleville-Sur-Mer, Normandy, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Those who fell on the beaches were remembered as well as veterans who had returned.
The US leader mentioned some old soldiers who were present by name, urging them to make themselves known in the crowd and calling on all those present to pay their respects.
“Whenever the world makes you cynical – stop and think of these men,” Obama said
“Along with all our veterans of D-day – if you can, please stand; if not, please raise your hand and let us recognise your service. These men waged war so that we might know peace. They sacrificed so that we might be free. They fought in hopes of a day when we’d no longer need to fight. We are grateful to them.”
A huge round of applause followed.
British and Commonwealth casualties were remembered in Bayeux where French Prime Minister Manuel Walls welcomed British premier David Cameron and his wife Samantha as well as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
A service at Bayeux Cathedral and ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery saw tributes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Queen Elizabeth was among those to lay a wreath at the memorial.
Recent tensions leave no doubt that today’s world is far from perfect but had Hitler succeeded, this gathering of international leaders – 70 years on – could never have taken place.