THE leaders of 17 countries gathered in France last weekend to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day. This was the allied invasion of the Normandy coast in German-controlled France on June 6, 1944, which led to the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II.     

The guests included US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the host, President Jacques Chirac of France. Also present was Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the first German leader ever to take part in the D-Day remembrance event.     
Chirac said he wanted “both a festival, with moments of seriousness, and a signal that finally we can live in peace.”

Though this invitation to Germany was criticized by some, Hamlaoui Mekachera, French War Veterans Minister, said it is time to turn the page.     
“We want to use the past for the future and the future for us is the building of a lasting peace,” he said. “When the past serves this lasting peace, why not?”     

The event also saw France try to ease tension with the US following Chirac’s opposition to the war in Iraq. The Legion of Honour, the country’s highest award, was presented to 300 veterans, including 100 Americans, at a June 5 ceremony in Paris.

This was a friendly sign to assure Americans that France remembers, and remains thankful for their support and sacrifices during World War II .