This is the 65th anniversary of the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy, which ultimately led to the liberation of Europe during World War II. President Obama is in France and will take part in ceremonies marking D-Day.
With row after row of white crosses and stars of David, the American Cemetery at Normandy sits atop a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach. In June of 1944, Nazi bunkers, mines, machine guns and heavy artillery defended the French coastline. Soldiers in landing craft faced a horrific barrage as they established a toehold on the beach. This cemetery contains the graves of more than 9,000 American soldiers.
It is tradition for American presidents to come here. President Obama arrives a day after visiting the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. He spoke of the sacrifices American soldiers made during World War II. Veterans of this critical battle are in their eighties and older — and fewer in number.
Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Don Gonyea about the trip.