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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

President Obama is in France this morning, paying tribute to the Allied soldiers who began the liberation of Europe on D-Day 65 years ago today. President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prince Charles of Great Britain and aging veterans of that Normandy invasion are with the president to honor the surviving soldiers and remember their fallen comrades.

NPR's Don Gonyea has been traveling with the president. He joins us now from the American Cemetery in Normandy. Good morning, Don.

DON GONYEA: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And set the scene for us, please.

GONYEA: This really is a remarkable place any day of the year. Anybody who has been here knows that. But to be here on an anniversary where you have an American president, the French president, Prince Charles will be here, there are all kinds of dignitaries, as you can imagine, and there are, we're told, an estimated 200 veterans of the D-Day landing here.

The smallest number ever, of course, the youngest of them is 80 years-plus -some of them in their 90s who I've talked to. But it really is just a remarkable place. We're on this windswept cliff overlooking the English channel. You can see the beaches down below. And all around me here, more than 9,000 white crosses, Stars of David, all perfectly aligned. And on this day, everyone has an American flag and a French flag in the ground placed before them. So it really is quite a scene, Scott.

SIMON: What's on the president's agenda today, Don?

GONYEA: He started the day in Paris, flew up here for a meeting with President Sarkozy and a lunch. They've actually developed a pretty close relationship in the first four, five months that Mr. Obama has been in office. But really the centerpiece of the day both will be participating in this ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the Allied landings here.

President Obama is one of several speakers. People will be very anxious to hear what he has to say. Obviously it's a tradition for American presidents to come to this place and to mark this anniversary. And we are told that President Obama will not just talk about the sacrifice and the stories of those who fought here and how we need to always honor and remember that. But he will also talk about challenges and dangers that are present in the world today.

And he will speak to the American-European alliance. And he will prod Europe to always be there, to step up and to share some of the burden in various conflicts around the world. Specifically, he's thinking about Afghanistan. But he will, let's say, encourage Europe to play its role.

SIMON: NPR's Don Gonyea with President Obama in Normandy. Thanks so much.

GONYEA: It's my pleasure.

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