Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasion by Allied forces along the coast of France that helped defeat the Nazis in World War II.
Allied veterans and families of their fallen comrades gathered at the U.S. cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings.
Visitors and U.S. Naval Academy cadets watched as a bagpipe band paraded at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, amid the thousands of white marble crosses and Stars of David of men and women who lost their lives during the invasion.
U.S. veterans and their families also took part in anniversary events Saturday at the National World War II Memorial in Washington.
About 160,000 Allied troops parachuted or waded onto the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, in what was the largest sea assault in military history. Though about 4,500 died by the end of the day, the operation eventually led to an Allied victory across Europe.
The invasion began shortly after midnight with a perilous airborne operation led by paratroopers of the "Screaming Eagles'' 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne divisions. At dawn, thousands of Allied troops leaped out of landing craft to storm the beaches under ferocious German attacks.
U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then the supreme commander of Allied forces across Western Europe, called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”