(PORTSMOUTH, England) — Queen Elizabeth II and world leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump gathered Wednesday on the south coast of England to honor the troops who risked and sacrificed their lives 75 years ago on D-Day, a bloody but ultimately triumphant turning point in World War II.
Across the Channel, American and British paratroopers dropped into northwestern France and scaled cliffs beside Normandy beaches, recreating the daring, costly invasion that helped liberate Europe from Nazi occupation.
With the number of veterans of World War II dwindling, the guests of honor at an international ceremony in Portsmouth were several hundred men, now in their 90s, who served in the conflict — and the 93-year-old British monarch, also a member of what has been called the “greatest generation.”
The queen, who served as an army mechanic during the war, said that when she attended a 60th-anniversary commemoration of D-Day 15 years ago, many thought it might be the last such event.
“But the wartime generation — my generation — is resilient,” she said, striking an unusually personal note.
“The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten,” the monarch said. “It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country — indeed the whole free world — that I say to you all, thank you.”
About 300 World War II veterans, aged 91 to 101, attended the ceremony in Portsmouth, the English port city from where many of the troops embarked for Normandy