Code named Operation Overlord, the fighting was fierce with over 4,900 soldiers, sailors, airmen and coastguardsmen killed, missing or unaccounted for. But the battle is seen as the turning point in WWII and leading to an Allied victory the following year.
On June 4, the city commemorated the 79th anniversary of D-Day with a ceremony at Market Square. Featured were WWII reenactors, a 1940s jazz band, the U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps, and displays detailing the battle on the Normandy beaches of Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword.
“I am part of the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment trained in intelligence and reconnaissance,” said reenactor Caden Ritchie. “I am trying to tell the story of those who served in the campaign – to show what they looked like and what equipment they would have used.”
Joining Ritchie were Matthias Becker and Michael Nakonieczny as fellow soldiers and Tatum Wood as an American Red Cross volunteer.
“The Red Cross had ‘Donut Dollies’ who provided food and entertainment for the troops in their downtime,” said Wood.
Reenactor Michael Resser attended as part of the 29th Division Living History group.
“I am here to remember the sacrifice of the 29th Division from Virginia, including the Bedford Boys, on June 6, 1944,” Resser said. “This is a display of equipment and uniforms that were common to the men of the 29th on that date.”
The event marks the 13th annual celebration, planned and executed by the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee. The city of Caen, in western Normandy, was the center of some of the heaviest fighting after the Allies landed on the nearby beaches that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
Sponsors of the event included Yates, Alexandria Toyota, Ting Internet, Onelife Fitness, Mr. and Mrs. Doug John, Alexandria Radio Club and Mr. Jan Maas.