Veterans hold sunrise ceremony at Normandy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Veterans hold sunrise ceremony at Normandy

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The sun rises over a cemetery for American soldiers who lost their lives fighting in France. (Source: CBS) The sun rises over a cemetery for American soldiers who lost their lives fighting in France. (Source: CBS)

NORMANDY, FRANCE (CBS) - Friday marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day when Americans and their allies landed in Normandy to help liberate France from Nazi Germany.

A small group of U.S. veterans gathered for a sunrise ceremony on Omaha Beach on the anniversary.

"I'm so filled with joy right now, I can hardly control myself," said American veteran Donald McCarthy. Hundreds of veterans are among the large crowd at the American Cemetery for a memorial. The once battleground is now sacred ground for the thousands of U.S. soldiers killed in the invasion of Normandy.

"Ah, this is so sad. All these young boys," said Kathy Cunningham of San Diego, CA.

President Obama and the president of France are also honoring the more than 150,000 troops who landed in the region back in 1944.

Most had to fight through the rough waters of the English Channel to reach the beaches where many lives were lost, but where World War II was won.

A quiet coastline is a stark contrast to the bloody battle that unfolded on Omaha Beach, the largest of the five main landing areas.

The French are reminded of that history everywhere they turn in Normandy.

There are life-like displays, monuments with messages of freedom along with pictures, symbols and tributes to the fallen.

"I think it's great that they're doing it. And I think they're going to do it forever," said Melvin Buschman, a World War II veteran.

Buschman, 93, says Friday will likely mark his last trip to Normandy and his last chance to pass along stories from the deadliest war in history.

World leaders including Britain's Queen Elizabeth are in Normandy to honor the British, American and Canadian forces who fought on D-Day.

Copyright 2014 CBS. All rights reserved.

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