A procession of WWII-era warplanes lumbered in formation over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., today, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Victory-Europe Day. Better known as V-E Day, March 8, 1945, was the day when the United States announced it had accepted Germany's surrender and the war in Europe was over.
The "Arsenal Of Democracy Flyover" lasted nearly an hour and included more than two dozen training planes, fighters and bombers.
Thousands, many of them aging veterans, lined the Mall to watch the aerial spectacle. P-51 Mustangs and P-40 Warhawks, a pair of B-17 Flying Fortresses and one B-29 Superfortress, among many others, flew down the Potomac River, turned at the Lincoln Memorial and continued low over the Mall in sequenced formations.
There were spectators on the roofs of many downtown D.C. buildings, and some watched the spectacle from kayaks and other watercraft on the Potomac on a warm, sunny day.
The flyover coincided with a wreath-laying ceremony at the National WWII Memorial and included a missing man formation:
Among those who spoke at the ceremony was National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who said, "We honor all those brave men and women. Those who fell, and those who survived — including the proud veterans who are here with us today.
"The story of your generation will never be forgotten," Rice added. "We will continue to tell it to children blessedly untouched by war, so that they understand, as this memorial reminds us, the price of freedom."
Tens of millions of people died in the war, including more than 400,000 Americans.
President Obama said in a statement, "Today, we salute the more than 16 million Americans who left everything they knew — their families, their homes — to serve in World War II, and then came home to help build the America we know today."
CBS reported that one of the vintage planes had to make an emergency landing at nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which was closed midday to accommodate the flyover.
Several of the planes that took part in the flyover are scheduled to be on display this weekend at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport in Virginia.