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Leaders, Veterans Gather for D-Day Anniversary in Normandy - 2004-06-05


President Bush is in France where he will take part in ceremonies Sunday marking the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landing which began French liberation from Nazi rule during the Second World War.

President Bush joins more than a dozen heads of state and European royalty in remembering the thousands of men who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy.

French President Jacques Chirac hosts the ceremonies which for the first time will include a German Chancellor in a move that Mr. Chirac says shows European unity and reconciliation.

Following a Saturday meeting with President Bush, the French leader said he is particularly grateful for the American sacrifices during D-Day.

"I will have the opportunity to say to America and to Americans just how deeply grateful we are to them today," he said. "How grateful we are in the knowledge of the sacrifices they made, of the blood that they spilled, their own blood, for the liberation of our country and of Europe as a whole. And I will say to them, France says thank-you and France does not forget."

President Bush says the anniversary is a time to reflect on the sacrifices that helped defeat fascism and restored liberty to France and Western Europe.

"We'll also remember the timeless lessons that D-Day teaches: that sacrifices must always be borne in the defense of freedom, that free nations working together can overcome danger, and that the deepest source of strength of any army is the values for which it fights," the president said.

In the weeks leading-up to D-Day, President Bush has drawn parallels between that struggle and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But White House officials say he will not make that case in Normandy Sunday. Instead, he will focus on personal stories from the invasion and long-standing alliances between Europe and the United States.

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