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Alexandria Remembers D-Day

Speakers and screening mark 68 years since Normandy invasions.

— On June 6, 1944, American and Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy and began operations that would eventually lead to the liberation of France and the rest of Europe. The scars of the invasion can be felt 68 years on.

The Alexandria/Caen Sister City Committee plans to mark D-Day on Wednesdy, June 6, with an evening of commemorative speakers, as well as a screening of the documentary “A Hero’s Welcome.”

“The film expresses how relevant the France and American connection still is,” said Jennie Reading, vice-chair of the ACSCC. “School children annually take flowers out to the American cemetery, it’s very much a living history there.”

The gratitude of the French is all the more startling as liberation also meant near total destruction. “Caen was on the main road through France, and it was hoped to cut the supply line,” said Redding. “It was an important and strategic move.”

When the city could not be taken by force, the decision was made to have it carpet-bombed. Nearly 70 years of peace has brought change to Caen and Normandy.

The relationship between Alexandria and Caen took shape under the stewardship of Mayor Charles Beatley, who first visited the city as a pilot in the 1970s. Today the sister city committee looks to foster closer ties by promoting awareness of important cultural relations.

“We’ve flagged D-Day as our signature event, and moving forward we’re hoping to grow it. Ideas for next year that are being passed around are city-wide capture the flag or paintball,” said James Lewis, a spokesman for the ACSCC. “Whatever we do, it will maintain the reverence due to D-Day.”