COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (CNN) - World leaders joined military veterans in northwest France on Saturday to pay respects to those who lost their lives 65 years ago in the D-Day landings of World War II.
President Obama, French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian PM Stephen Harper and Britain's Prince Charles are among those who attended a ceremony in a coastal cemetery that is the final resting place of many who lost their lives in the decisive operation.
"The battle of Normandy decided the outcome of the war," said Sarkozy, the first to speak.
It was "won by soldiers 20 years of age who killed so as not to be killed." The French president described the horrors of the battle, where so many died before they were able to land that "those who did make it ashore waded through the bodies of the dead and wounded that floated in on the tide."
He cited a letter from a U.S. soldier who said the day "was like a waking nightmare. The ground was so strewn with bodies that you could practically cross the beach without touching the sand."
"Never, never will France forget," he vowed.