OMAHA BEACH, France — With silent remembrance and respect, nations honored the fallen and the singular bravery of all Allied troops who sloshed through bloodied water to the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago on D-Day, the assault that portended the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich.
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump praised the soldiers, sailors and airmen, the survivors and those who lost their lives, in powerful speeches Thursday that credited the June 6, 1944, surprise air and sea operation that brought tens of thousands of men to Normandy, each not knowing whether he would survive the day.
“You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic, and we thank you from the bottom of our heart,” Trump said, of the warriors engaged in the ultimate fight of good against evil in World War II.
Macron praised their courage, generosity and strength of spirit that made them press on “to help men and women they didn’t know, to liberate a land most hadn’t seen before, for no other cause but freedom, democracy.”
He expressed France’s debt to the United States for freeing his country from the reign of the Nazis. Macron awarded five American veterans with the Chevalier of Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.
“We know what we owe to you, veterans, our freedom,” he said, switching from French to English. “On behalf of my nation I just want to say ‘thank you.’”
D-Day was history’s largest air and sea invasion, involving around 160,000 troops on that day itself and many more in the ensuing Battle of Normandy. Of those 73,000 were from the United States, while 83,000 were from Britain and Canada. Troops started landing overnight from the air, then were joined by a massive force by sea on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats.
The second day of ceremonies moved to France after spirited commemorations a day earlier in Portsmouth, England, the main embarkation point for the transport boats.
Leaders, veterans, their families and the grateful from France, Europe and elsewhere were present for the solemn day that began under a radiant sun.
At dawn, hundreds of people, civilians and military alike, hailing from around the world, gathered at the water’s edge to remember the troops who stormed the fortified Normandy beaches to help turn the tide of the war and give birth to a new Europe.
Dick Jansen, 60, from the Netherlands, drank Canadian whisky from an enamel cup on the water’s edge. Others scattered carnations into the waves. Randall Atanay, the son of a medic who tended to the dying and wounded, waded barefoot into the water near Omaha Beach, where the waters ran red on D-Day.
Up to 12,000 people gathered hours later at the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, where Macron and Trump spoke. U.S. veterans, their numbers fast diminishing as years pass, were the guests of honor.
A 21-gun salute thundered into the waters below the cemetery, on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, and across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David. The final resting places of more than 9,380 of the fallen stretched out before the guests.
Britain’s Prince Charles, his wife, Camilla, and Prime Minister Theresa May attended a remembrance service at the medieval cathedral in Bayeux, the first Normandy town liberated by Allied troops after D-Day. Cardinal Marc Ouellet read a message from Pope Francis honoring those who “gave their lives for freedom and peace.”
Hundreds of people packed the seaside square in the town of Arromanches to applaud veterans of the Battle of Normandy. A wreath was placed outside the town’s D-Day Museum.
At daybreak, a lone piper played in Mulberry Harbor, exactly 75 years after British troops came ashore at Gold Beach.
“It is sobering, surreal to be able to stand here on this beach and admire the beautiful sunrise where they came ashore, being shot at, facing unspeakable atrocities,” said 44-year-old former U.S. paratrooper Richard Clapp, of Julian, North Carolina.
Gratitude was a powerful common theme.
Macron thanked those who did not survive the assault “so that France could become free again” at an earlier ceremony overlooking Gold Beach with May and uniformed veterans to lay the cornerstone of a memorial that will record the names of thousands of troops under British command who died on D-Day and the ensuing Battle of Normandy.
“If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was the 6th of June, 1944,” May said.
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.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed those who sacrificed their lives on the Normandy beaches for future generations, “for you and me.”
Speaking at Juno Beach where 14,000 Canadians landed, Trudeau said they “took a gamble the world had never seen before.”
He lauded the resulting world order including the United Nations and NATO that have helped preserve peace and called it “the responsibility of all Canadians to ensure that their story and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
A group of five Americans parachuted into Normandy on Wednesday as part of a commemorative jump and showed up on the beach Thursday morning still wearing their jumpsuits, all World War II-era uniforms, and carrying an American flag. The group included Clapp, and all five expressed concern the feats and sacrifices of D-Day are being forgotten.
“If you forget history, it’s doomed to repeat itself,” Clapp said.
“I have all kinds of friends buried,” said 98-year-old William Tymchuk, who served with the 4th Canadian Armored Division during some of the deadliest fighting after the Normandy landings.
“They were young. They got killed. They couldn’t come home,” he added.
Then Tymchuk teared up.
“Sorry,” he said. “They couldn’t even know what life is all about.”
The D-Day invasion was a defining moment of military strategy confounded 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 tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory,” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower predicted in his order of the day.
The Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, hastened Germany’s defeat less than a year later.
Still, that single day cost the lives of 4,414 Allied troops, 2,501 of them Americans. More than 5,000 were injured. On the German side, several thousand were killed or wounded.
From there, Allied troops would advance their fight, take Paris in late summer and march in a race with the Soviet Red Army to control as much German territory as possible by the time Adolf Hitler died in his Berlin bunker and Germany surrendered in May 1945.
The Soviet Union also fought valiantly against the Nazis — and lost more people than any other nation in World War II — but those final battles would divide Europe for decades between the West and the Soviet-controlled East, the face-off line of the Cold War.
Associated Press writers Sylvie Corbet in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, and Milos Krivokapic and Adam Pemble in Ver-sur-Mer contributed.
Follow all of the AP’s coverage of D-Day at https://apnews.com/WorldWarII
A study into the response of the massive Bald Mountain and Pole Creek fires that burned more than 100,000 acres in Utah County last year found some areas in response that could have been improved.
The fires caused evacuations of thousands of people in September, including the entire cities of Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills, though no homes or major structures were lost. The U.S. Forest Service was criticized by many for a perceived lack of response to the fires.
Both fires were started by lightning, and were initially considered by fire managers to be unlikely to threaten people or infrastructure, giving their remote, high-elevation start locations.
How those fires were able to grow so quickly was the subject of a Facilitated Learning Analysis released Wednesday. The purpose of the analysis was to learn from the experience, develop lessons learned, determine what could have been done differently and improve future practices, according to KJ Pollock, public affairs specialist with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
“While the actions and decisions taken throughout the event made sense to the people involved at the time, there is much to learn from the Bald Mountain and Pole Creek Fires through hindsight,” the report said.
One of the three big takeaways, the report says, is that the fires demonstrated the need for a structured, risk-informed decision making process.
“There is no national process to follow,” the report’s introduction states. “Consequently, while the decisions made may have been sound risk management decisions, it is difficult to document this and be fully transparent with our partners and the public.”
Second, a lack of standard terminology is not used across the interagency community, which can lead to miscommunication and confusion.
Third, the fires exposed a gap of understanding and expectations of what the Red/Green map is and how it should be used. The Red/Green map is a tool used to help communicate which areas in which a fire starts could be a means to reduce fuel accumulations with little or no risk. A fire that starts in a “red” area is most likely unwanted. A fire starting in a green area could be evaluated “for an approach that would lead to a larger fire footprint.”
Bald Mountain and Pole Creek
The Bald Mountain fire started in a green area on the map. Steep slopes in the vicinity created concerns for firefighter safety, and it also rained more than an inch. The decision was made to monitor the fire. The course of action was to “Allow fire to burn to north, northeast and east. However, consider and allow suppression actions on the southwest and southern boundaries to prevent fire from reaching private lands and minimizing the need to close the Mona Pole Road.”
The fire was monitored for 12 days, and had grown to only 5.5 acres during that time.
“Confidence was high among the experienced fire managers on the district that the Bald Mountain Fire wouldn’t achieve much in the way of resource restoration before it went out,” the report says.
“The Forest (Service) had been successful with this approach of improving forest health conditions over time by using these natural fire ignitions as opportunities to re-introduce wildfire in previously identified remote areas,” the report says.
The Pole Creek fire was reported days later, roughly six miles to the southeast of Bald Mountain. Crews that went to check it out reported hiking through rain to get there. Crews opted for confine/contain strategy, meaning they intended to hold the fire growth to a defined area of about 200 to 300 acres. The area was wet, and crews sent to the fire site to line prep and scout it reported thinking it was too wet to burn.
A change in expected weather a few days into containing the fire resulted in the fire gaining activity on its east side on Sept. 10, and a firing boss opted to cease the operations, so as not to place firefighters in the saddle with fire below them.
On Sept. 12 through 13, both fires had started spreading rapidly, traveling miles per day and threatening highways. New courses of actions for the fire released Sept. 13 indicated using direct and indirect tactics to fully suppress Pole Creek.
A list of lessons learned included in the report say there is a need for clear fire terminology so that terms like confine/contain, monitor, fire use and others are used so that both internal and external audiences interpret these terms and concepts the same.
“These terms can cause confusion about intent, objectives, and outcomes, both internally and externally,” the report says. “This lack of clarity seems to have been driven by the use of vague terminology ... we heard it from partners, we heard it from public affairs, and we heard it from Agency Administrators.”
Members of the public indicated frustration with the term “monitoring,” asking public information officers if they were still “watching” the fire when it was threatening communities.
“Some firefighters indicated a need to “just call it all suppression,’” the report says “And quit trying to delineate between monitoring, modified suppression strategies, and full suppression strategies.”
Others said it is useful to have a term that means more than monitoring and less than aggressive suppression action, though currently, no such term is available in the accepted, official lexicon that describes such a response.
“In summary, relying on general descriptors or response strategies is not a very useful way to try and communicate what managers have in mind for achieving control,” the report said. “What seems to be causing communication problems is that we, as fire managers, may mistakenly believe that simply describing the general strategy we are employing will be fully satisfactory to the listener.”
Another condition that affected decision making during the fires was relying on intuition or prior experience to make decisions. But in a situation where firefighters are seeing fuel conditions, weather, and fire behavior they’ve never seen before, relying on intuition can be misleading, the report said.
“At various times during these events, responders and managers found themselves making decisions using insufficient or inaccurate information,” the report said. “That this occurred is not attributable to error so much as it is indicative of the complexity of the environment. ... As we marry our intuitions with analytical models, we can more objectively check our predictions against the way fire actually burns on the landscape.”
Studying the fires has pointed toward larger agency and system issues, the report said.
“We are increasingly hearing statements like, ‘I have never seen THIS before!’” the report says. “This raises questions about why our decision-making process still relies so heavily on past experience when we know that there are limitations to relying almost entirely on experience in a changing environment.”
The current system is set up to rely on fire behavior analysts, the report says, and the only available person trained to perform fire behavior analysis during the early stages of the two fires was a person typically busy managing fires and running models for the rest of the forest as well. Because administrators are aware of the pressure on fire behavior analysts, they often attempt to interpret results themselves.
“Without the assistance of a trained analyst, important aspects of various forecast products are not obvious to managers,” the report says.
“From this learning, the UWF, the Intermountain Region, and the U.S. Forest Service can enhance their risk-informed decision-making process,” the report concludes. “This process would be conducive to transparently conveying the risks involved with partners and cooperators, to clarify terminology, and to develop a standardized process to use powerful fire analysis tools to give us the best decision guidance on when it is a good risk management decision to use a fire to meet restoration goals.”
The majority of teachers in the Alpine School District feel overworked and don’t have enough time in the work day to carry out their responsibilities, according to a working conditions and climate survey conducted this spring.
The results give evidence to what the district has suspected.
“It was honestly pretty close to what we anticipated,” said John Patten, the assistant superintendent of educational services and K-12 for the Alpine School District. “It wasn’t much of a surprise that teachers feel overwhelmed and that they are taking a lot of work home.”
The survey, administered in March by Hanover Research, asked for employee opinions on topics from financial compensation, to training, to bullying. More than 4,200 employees responded, including about 3,000 teachers, leading to responses from about half of the district’s employees.
The survey found that about 90% of employees who answered stated they enjoy their job.
Of teachers who answered the survey, 65% said they felt overwhelmed at work, a rate about twice that of non-teachers.
About a third of teachers answered they have enough time in the work day to carry out their responsibilities — 58% answered they have a good work/life balance and 83% of teachers who answered said they bring work home with them.
About half of the teachers who answered said they were satisfied with their salary.
Fourteen percent of employees answered they’d been harassed or bullied for their political beliefs within the last year. Nine percent answered they’d been harassed or bullied for their sex, 10% reported being harassed or bullied for their physical appearance and 13% for their religion.
The survey results make four recommendations for the district — to support teachers to create a better work/life balance, to continue to offer professional development about technology use, to create anti-harassment initiatives about sex, physical appearance, religion and political beliefs and to provide clear messaging about the district’s “Vision for Learning” plan.
Patten said the survey is believed to be the first of its size and scope.
He said the district had the survey conducted to assure it is meeting the needs of employees and to have data available for when the district meets with employee associations to go through collective bargaining and negotiations.
The plan is to make the survey an annual event in order to monitor trends.
The Alpine School District Board of Education is already looking at ways to respond to the information revealed in the survey.
“Being confronted with the raw survey data, I think really had a pretty strong impact on leadership at the district,” Patten said.
Those future changes may include an adjustment to next year’s calendar that would include adding a half-day preparation day at the end of three terms.
“It really is such a small move, that is just a drop in the bucket, but I think ... if the board chooses to adopt those calendar options, it will be a huge gesture to teachers and they will be grateful for it,” Patten said.
Other measures include creating modules that will shorten the time it takes to do required training at the beginning of the school year on topics such as child abuse prevention and indicators for suicide.
Patten said the Alpine School District Board of Education is also anticipated to use $11 million from the state as part of the Teacher and Student Success Act to go toward measures such as adding five psychologists, six social workers, 14 elementary school counselors, 25 instructional coaches to the district, along with 6.5 board-certified analysts to help with behavior intervention
“Thanks to the TSSA, we will have some pretty significant resources we are infusing into the system that we feel will make an impact by this time next year,” Patten said.
SALT LAKE CITY — A chorus of residents stood up during a tense, two-hour public hearing to bemoan the complicated applications, stricter eligibility requirements and other restrictions Utah’s proposed Medicaid expansion would place on care for vulnerable patients.
“I need services, I need outpatient and inpatient, I need to have some options,” Adam Montgomery, a resident who is being treated for bipolar disorder, told the crowd.
The Utah Department of Health met with residents Thursday to collect feedback before submitting the plan to the federal government.
Nathan Checketts, the director of the department’s Medicaid program, estimated the waiver request would be submitted sometime this summer.
During the hearing, some health care advocates expressed concern that a scaled-back version of the voter-approved law would leave thousands of people without proper medical coverage. Advocate Stacy Stanford said the work requirement and enrollment cap outlined in the regulations would block people from receiving critical health care.
“If Medicaid was a pot of gold, the maze to get to it has just gotten more complicated,” Stephanie Burdick, a community advocate who works with disabled people, said.
State officials said the requests are intended to reduce uncompensated care and prevent the Medicaid program from cutting into funds from Utah’s general budget, among other goals.
Former President Obama expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, often dubbed “Obamacare,” allowing states to broaden eligibility and offer subsidies to help people buy health insurance. Many Republican-leaning states have refused to expand the program, citing financial constraints and ideological reasons.
Utah rolled out its partial Medicaid expansion in April, and plans to ask the federal government for a first-of-its-kind waiver to cover a larger share of the program. State officials also want to add a work or “community engagement requirement” for some individuals to receive health coverage. Lawmakers have gotten assurance from the Trump administration that the waivers would be approved, but the federal government hasn’t commented.
More than 29,000 residents were enrolled in Medicaid as of June 4, according to the Utah Department of Health.
The proposal signed into law earlier this year would expand low-income health coverage to some residents who earn up to 100% of the poverty level — about $12,490 for an individual or $25,750 for a family of four.
Utah’s partial expansion is expected to cover up to 90,000 people; the voter-approved law would have expanded coverage to some 150,000 people making less than about $17,200.
A second public hearing is scheduled for June 17, where advocates say they will continue to push for expanded health care.