They take to their mission with gusto, flinging themselves across the sand, scaling sea walls, and leaping out of World War II-era planes. They've come from far afield -- from Poland, the Czech Republic, Britain, Canada, even from as far away as Texas -- and they will take the beaches of Normandy -- again.
These are the D-Day reenactors: military and history enthusiasts who have come to coastal France to relive one of the most pivotal -- and bloody -- moments in 20th-century history. Organizers estimate approximately 500 re-enactors have participated so far in the events leading up to June 6, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the attack known as Operation Overlord, which historians credit for helping to change the course of World War II. About 1,800 veterans attended the celebration.
On June 6, 1944, over 156,000 allied troops, consisting mainly of U.S. and British soldiers, began the crawl, under heavy fire, across the beaches of German-occupied France under the command of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He would proclaim after the invasion, "The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory!" -- a victory that, seven decades on, still manages to capture the imagination.
Here, enthusiasts dressed in Allied forces uniforms watch as World War II-era C-47 planes fly overhead during a planned parachute drop on June 4, at Carentan, France.
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