The coronavirus pandemic has canceled events around the world. One of those is the D-Day anniversary, a solemn occasion that marks the landing of Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. It’s the 76th anniversary of the 1944 landings, but for the first time there won’t be any veterans on the beaches to mark the occasion. Due to bans on large gatherings, official commemorations have been canceled, except for a small gathering of representatives from nine countries for a short ceremony.
Ian Stewart, of the Spirit of Normandy Trust that fundraises for D-Day veterans, told The Guardian, “It’s very sad, and the French are equally saddened by the fact we cannot be there. Nobody takes any pleasure from the restrictions. Every year counts. Last year, the 75th anniversary, was a bonus. The men are now all in their late 90s and they are struggling on.”
While the veterans won’t be there in person to participate in the ceremony, it will be live streamed for anyone who wishes to watch from home. The scaled-down event on Saturday will also feature a flyby from the French air force’s acrobatics team.
Jean-Marc Lefranc, president of the D-Day Landing Committee, said, “Since 1945, every year we have paid homage to the men who fought for our freedom. This year, for the first time it will not be open to the public.”
We all hope this is only a one-year lapse in the tradition, which will likely resume next year for the 77th anniversary.