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Pandemic makes for a lonely D-Day observance in Normandy

Robert F. Sargent / U.S. Coast Guard
Robert F. Sargent / U.S. Coast Guard(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 6, 2020 at 3:27 PM CDT
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This year's D-Day anniversary in Normandy has turned out to be one of the loneliest observances ever. The coronavirus pandemic and its lockdowns left the famous Omaha Beach landing strip largely deserted.

Lone U.S. veteran Charles Shay mourned not only the deaths of his comrades 76 years ago, but also that he would not see any fellow veterans of the historic battle.

Still the French would not let this day slip by unnoticed. The moment the sun broke over the ocean Saturday, the Omaha Beach theme from the film “Saving Private Ryan” blared across the sand for a few dozen locals and visitors.

The Normandy landings and airborne operations on June 6, 1944, marked the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France, and later, western Europe, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area now host many visitors each year.

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