Vice President Mike Pence recently honored the US soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy 75-years ago on D-Day during a speech at the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia.
Many later re-created their journey, with less danger and more comfort, by crossing the English Channel by ship to Normandy overnight to attend commemorations Thursday in Bayeux, the first major town liberated by Allied troops after D-Day.
Now, 75 years later in June 2019, at the age of 97, Rice jumped out of a plane into Normandy again, but nobody was shooting at him this time and it wasn't dark outside. "The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you", Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had said in his order of the day.
The devastation wrought by two world wars in the first half of the 20th century fostered a decades-long era of cooperation between European capitals determined to protect their hard-fought peace, giving rise to what is now the European Union. Today, they too have found a final resting place here.
Wednesday's ceremony brought together presidents, prime ministers and other representatives of more than a dozen countries that fought alongside Britain in Normandy.
Gratitude was a powerful common theme.
They paid a last tribute to D-Day victims and veterans, laying wreaths of flowers on the sand where German machine guns, artillery and mortar shells greeted the Allied soldiers on June, 6, 1944.
At dawn, hundreds of people, civilians and military alike, hailing from around the world, gathered at the water's edge, remembering the troops who stormed the fortified Normandy beaches to help turn the tide of the war and give birth to a new Europe.
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As the sun rose that morning, not one of the thousands of men arriving in Normandy "knew whether they would still be alive when the sun set once again", she said. Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited to the anniversary events.
"The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten", Elizabeth said.
The D-Day invasion was a defining moment of military strategy complicated by unpredictable weather and human chaos in which soldiers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and other Allied nations applied relentless bravery to carve out a beachhead on ground that Nazi Germany had occupied for four years.
The amphibious landings - codenamed Operation Overlord - were preceded by an extensive bombing campaign to damage German defenses.
Heavy fire from German positions on the steep cliffs, which had not been effectively destroyed by Allied bombing before the invasion, also caused casualties.
A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself, including 2,501 Americans.
He lauded the resulting world order including the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation that have helped ensure peace since World War II.
"War is the most idiotic thing that man ever created", said Charles Levesque, 93, who served in the Pacific theatre.