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You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
Learning English - Words in the News
07 June, 2004 - Published 14:10 GMT
D-Day commemoration
D Day Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy

The largest international gathering of war veterans in recent memory took place on 6th June 2004, sixty years after the events of D-Day. Many world leaders attended the day of commemoration held in Normandy, north-western France. This report from William Horsley:

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There was strong symbolism in a speech here by Germany's Chancellor Schroeder, the first German leader to attend an event of this kind. He said: “We in Germany know our responsibility for history and take it seriously. German soldiers were sent on a murderous mission to oppress Europe.”

It was a memorable day for thousands of war veterans from fourteen nations which played a part in D-Day or the Battle of Normandy. Dozens of memorial services, fly-pasts and gatherings on famous battlefields turned it into a huge festival of commemoration on the beaches and towns of Normandy. The veterans had pride of place as they honoured their fallen comrades in the war cemeteries.

Among more than twenty world leaders, US President Bush and France's President Chirac paid their own emotional tributes and put current political differences aside.

Mr Bush said the transatlantic alliance,    forged in war, was as strong and necessary as ever. Mr Chirac said France would never forget the debt of gratitude it owed to the nations which liberated France and much of Europe. He also declared that France's cooperation with Germany was an example to others of reconciliation and international understanding.

William Horsley, BBC News

Listen to the words

war veterans
people who have served in the armed forces during a war

displays of aircraft flying overhead during a ceremony

celebrating or remembering an important event in history

had pride of place
were the most important guests

fallen comrades
soldiers who were killed in battle

paid their own emotional tributes
made very moving, emotional speeches to thank people

the transatlantic alliance
the close political relationship between the USA and Europe

created, devised

the debt of gratitude
the thanks they owe

re-establishing friendly relations

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