American Veterans Begin Arriving in Normandy for D-Day Events

ParachutesAmerican veterans, their families and friends have begun arriving in Normandy for the 69th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

But many will not being there this year, not because they are too infirm or frail, but because they lack the funds to pay for the annual pilgrimage where so many gave their lives to free France in 1944.

Funding for trips is scarce this year. But among those who are making the trip is a group from North Texas who were honoured when they arrived at JFK airport for their flight across the Atlantic to Paris in France before making their way to Normandy.

A red carpet lined the centre of the concourse leading to gate 12 at JFK with two dozen large American flags alongside and a bagpipe salute. The chief of New York’s fire department delivered a stirring message of thanks and dozens and dozens of passengers on their way to points around the world stopped to speak with the veterans.

They were able to make the trip after American Airlines donated the seats on the Trans Atlantic flight through their Veterans Initiative Programme.

One casualty due to the economic crisis this year is the American contingent at the annual parachute drop at La Fière near Sainte-Mère-Eglise. Due to defence cuts there will be only five American representatives at the town’s D-Day commemorations and no American parachutists in the traditional drop which is very popular with the crowds.

But organisers stressed that the jumping programme for Sunday 09 June will go ahead with parachutists from the French, German and Dutch armies. There will also be 72 civilian parachutists, some of them from French clubs who will be jumping in uniforms from the Second World War. These include members of the Round Canopy Parachuting team which has its head quarters in France.

‘We have decided to go ahead with the ceremony in honour of the American veterans who can’t be hear and for those who can,’ said Marc Lefèvre, mayor of Sainte-Mère-Eglise.

He said that the town hall was told that the American army has had to drastically reduce its budget for 2013.

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About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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