Dutch PM, Defense Minister attend D-Day commemorations

American war cemetery on Omaha beach in Normandy
American war cemetery on Omaha beach in Normandy. (Photo: peresanz/DepositPhotos)

The 75th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion that helped liberate Europe from the Nazi occupation in 1944, is being commemorated in Britain and France this week. Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended the commemoration in the English Portsmouth on Wednesday. And Minster Ank Bijleveld of Defense attended commemorations in Normandy and Arromanches on Thursday.

The gathering in Portsmouth on Wednesday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion fleet leaving Great Britain for the coast of France. Hundreds of veterans, thousands of soldiers, and the government leaders of allied countries, including Rutte from the Netherlands and Angela Merkel from Germany, attended.

Exactly 75 years ago today, the Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe from the Nazis. The Allied invasion involved over 130 thousand soldiers, the largest landing operation ever by sea, according to NOS. More than 150 thousand people were involved in the entire operation. French president Emmanuel Macron and American president Donald Trump spoke at the commemoration in Normandy. Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld represented the Netherlands there.

"Today France has not forgotten those fighters to whom we owe our freedom. On behalf of France I bow in front of their bravery. I bow down to our veterans and say thank you", Macron said, speaking through a translator, according to The Guardian. In English, he added: "We know what we owe to you, veterans, our freedom. On behalf of our nation I just want to say thank you."

"On this day 75 years ago 10 thousand men shed their blood and thousands sacrificed their lives for their brothers, for their countries and for the survival of liberty. Today we remember those who fell and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization", Trump said. "Veterans of the Second World War who join us today, you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our Republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

On Thursday morning Biljeveld also attended a Dutch commemoration in Arromanches, where the Princess Irene Brigade landed in August in 1944. The Dutch Defense Minister laid down a floral wreath there in the presence of veterans, according to NOS. 

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