ARROMANCHES, France — The Allies were together again Sunday in a grand ceremony to honor the troops who fought and died to liberate Europe.

With the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, French President Jacques Chirac thanked the “soldiers of freedom” for their “supreme selflessness” during D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the battles that followed.

“We are beholden to your struggle. Your engagement is an example, an obligation and a duty for us and for future generations. There can be no future without memory,” Chirac said.

An audience of World War II veterans, 16 heads of state and other dignitaries filled a massive grandstand at Arromanches, where tons of supplies and troops arrived via temporary bridges, called Mulberries, in the month after the invasion.

The international ceremony was one of several events recognizing the efforts of about 156,000 soldiers who took part in the D-Day invasion, which gave the Allies the foothold needed to defeat Germany’s Third Reich.

President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin were among the guests. Also attending was German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. It was the first time a German head of state had attended World War II memorial ceremonies in France.

Chirac noted Schroeder’s presence, reminding the crowd of Franco-German reconciliation.

“For several decades now, the bitter enemies of the past have been building their presents, and looking to the future together,” Chirac said.

“We … show the world that hatred has no future, that a path to peace is always possible.”

For two hours before the state officials arrived, military bands from 10 countries played crisply choreographed tunes. The Navy’s 6th Fleet Band from Naples, Italy, represented the United States.

Before a homage to the fallen soldiers of the war, 50 military jets from six countries flew over the parade grounds and grandstands. Four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, drew applause as they passed.

Amid the parades and music, the D-Day veterans marched in and stood at attention while Chirac awarded 14 of them the French Legion of Honor medal, the French government’s highest military honor.

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