- by cnn
- 29 Sep 2023
Thousands gathered by the beaches of Normandy on Tuesday to remember those who died fighting for freedom in World War II, ceremonies that had renewed meaning as speakers, including US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, pointed to parallels with Ukraine's war against Russia.
Seventy-nine years ago, D-Day kicked off the liberation of Europe, spearheaded by Allied sea and airborne landings in Normandy, France.
The first step toward victory - and peace - in Europe, it came at great cost to American and Allied soldiers, some 10,000 of whom would lie dead, be wounded or reported missing on French soil on that first, fateful day.
The parallels with the war in Ukraine have appeared again and again in speeches and comments about the D-Day commemorations. Many have pointed to the same struggle for freedom against occupation that drove both the liberation of Europe and Kyiv's fight against Russia's invasion.
As Ukraine nervously waits the outcome of its counteroffensive, the comparison with the Normandy landings is stark.
Austin, at the American War Cemetery off Omaha Beach, spoke of the war in Ukraine and the same desire - as was the case 79 years ago in Normandy - to seek a world "where those who speak tyranny and genocide will be cast out."
"If the troops of the world's democracies could risk their lives for freedom then, surely the citizens of the world's democracies can risk our comfort for freedom now," he said.
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