On June 6, 2007, on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day landings, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) will dedicate its new visitor center at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Attending the 10:30am ceremony will be the American Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and the French Minister of Defense, HervÃ© Morin.
Also participating will be the U.S. Ambassador to France, Craig R. Stapleton, Walter Ehlers, (who was in the first wave to hit Omaha Beach on D-Day and later was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions near Goville, France) and General Frederick M. Franks, Jr., current Chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission.
ABMC opened the new visitor center to the public on May 26 in time for Memorial Day weekend crowds. Normandy is ABMC’s most visited cemetery, receiving about one million visitors annually.
The center is open to visitors from 9am to 6pm through June 4, will be closed on June 5, and will re-open after the dedication event at approximately 1pm on June 6. There is no charge for admission.
The June 6 ceremony is open to the public. World War II veterans and family members of those buried in the cemetery will be given priority for seating, and they may pick up parking passes for the ceremony at the cemetery’s old visitor center building June 1 – 5.
Those planning to attend the ceremony should arrive one hour before the event begins and be seated by 10:00am.
The visitor center tells a story of individual competence, courage and sacrifice, using an array of interpretive exhibits to put the D-Day landings and continuing battle in Europe in perspective as one of the greatest military achievements of all time.
Normandy American Cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach, is the final resting place of 9,387 Americans; another 1,557 are memorialized in the Garden of the Missing.
For more on France on ITKT