Soldiers who stormed Normandy honoured

White crosses mark the graves of more than 9,000 American soldiers killed in the Second World War....

White crosses mark the graves of more than 9,000 American soldiers killed in the Second World War. Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined other world leaders there for commemorative ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day. (Kathleen Harris/Sun Media)

KATHLEEN HARRIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France -- Prime Minister joined other world leaders in a sprawling war cemetery to pay tribute to Allied soldiers who stormed the coast of Normandy 65 years ago.

Alongside U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Prince Charles to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day, Harper called the site "hallowed ground" as the scene of the largest seaborne invasion in human history.

Hailing those who fought during the Second World War as "The Greatest Generation," he urged young Canadians to carry the torch of remembrance and determination to uphold democracy.

"Our own world reminds us constantly of the crying need to safeguard and to advance the vision and the values for which our parents' generation fought, for which they died, and for which they lived," he said.

Amid hundreds of rows of white crosses marking the graves of more than 9,000 American soldiers in the Second World War, Harper asked the audience of 10,000 to also remember those Allied soldiers now serving "shoulder-to-shoulder" in Afghanistan.

"We remember that our peace and prosperity have come not only with a price, but also with an obligation, to do what we can to share our good fortune with others, including those elsewhere who to this day endure violence, oppression and privation," he said.

Obama said D-Day is "revered" in the minds of citizens around the world because it stopped evil and tyranny. Praising Canadian troops - who "came even though they weren't being attacked" - he also stressed the importance of remembrance as frail and aging veterans dwindle in numbers.

"We must not forget that D-Day was a time and a place where bravery and selflessness was able to change the course of an entire century," he said.

Bright blue skies opened up to rain shortly after the ceremony wrapped up.

Brown, who made a slip of the tongue and called Omaha Beach 'Obama Beach,' said the allied nations remain an ocean apart but are closer than ever because of June 6, 1944.

"We are eternal allies now because of it," he said.

Sarkozy praised Allied troops for their bravery and determination, including Canadian troops "who had volunteered for service in the earliest days of the conflict, not because their country was threatened, but because they were convinced it was a matter of honour."

"American and Canadian troops came twice to these shores to fight alongside the British and the French. How would it have gone with us, had they not come to our aid? From the answer to that question, so clear, so tragic, was born the Europe of today."

kathleen.harris@sunmedia.ca


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