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D-Day anniversary haunted by dwindling number of veterans and shadowed by Europe's new war

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D-Day anniversary haunted by dwindling number of veterans and shadowed by Europe's new war
News

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D-Day anniversary haunted by dwindling number of veterans and shadowed by Europe's new war

2024-06-07 08:15 Last Updated At:08:21

OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) — As young soldiers, they waded through breaking waves and gunfire to battle the Nazis. Now bent with age, the dwindling number of World War II veterans joined a new generation of leaders on Thursday to honor the dead, the living and the fight for democracy on the shores where they landed 80 years ago on D-Day.

The war in Ukraine shadowed the ceremonies in Normandy, a grim modern-day example of lives and cities that are again suffering through war in Europe. Ukraine's president was greeted with a standing ovation and cheers. Russia, a crucial World War II ally whose full-scale invasion of its smaller neighbor in 2022 set Europe on a new path of war, was not invited.

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk in the Normandy American Cemetery following a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) — As young soldiers, they waded through breaking waves and gunfire to battle the Nazis. Now bent with age, the dwindling number of World War II veterans joined a new generation of leaders on Thursday to honor the dead, the living and the fight for democracy on the shores where they landed 80 years ago on D-Day.

French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd left, his wife Brigitte Macron, left, and US President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden attend a ceremony together with World War II veterans at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd left, his wife Brigitte Macron, left, and US President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden attend a ceremony together with World War II veterans at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A World War II veteran arrives for ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A World War II veteran arrives for ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

World War II veterans listen during a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

World War II veterans listen during a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, left, Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales, center, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lay flowers during the Canadian commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landing, at the Juno Beach Centre near Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Lou Benoist, Pool via AP)

France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, left, Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales, center, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lay flowers during the Canadian commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landing, at the Juno Beach Centre near Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Lou Benoist, Pool via AP)

From left, Britain's Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of France Emmanuel Macron, and Brigitte Macron walk through the memorial wall during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

From left, Britain's Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of France Emmanuel Macron, and Brigitte Macron walk through the memorial wall during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to Royal Navy D-Day veteran Albert Keir, 98, from Derbyshire, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to Royal Navy D-Day veteran Albert Keir, 98, from Derbyshire, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty stand with D-Day veteran Alec Penstone, 98, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty stand with D-Day veteran Alec Penstone, 98, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98, from Surrey following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98, from Surrey following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Queen Camilla attend a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Queen Camilla attend a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

Re enactors and participants take part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors and participants take part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A re enactor takes part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A re enactor takes part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A military plane flies over an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A military plane flies over an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive at the Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Carpiquet, France, enroute to ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive at the Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Carpiquet, France, enroute to ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

People take picturesa at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

People take picturesa at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Participants watch as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Participants watch as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A participant watches as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A participant watches as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

A pipe band plays during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A pipe band plays during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Participants march during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Participants march during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors pose for a photo during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors pose for a photo during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are silhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are silhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Christophe Receveur and his daughter Julie, of France, unfold an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur and his daughter Julie, of France, unfold an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Sun rises over Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Sun rises over Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A re enactor holds a lantern during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A re enactor holds a lantern during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A pipe band makes the procession from Bayeux Cathedral to the military cemetery walking in front of Britain's Princess Anne and other dignitaries to take part in a vigil in memory of the fallen during the D-Day invasion in 1944, in Bayeux, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

A pipe band makes the procession from Bayeux Cathedral to the military cemetery walking in front of Britain's Princess Anne and other dignitaries to take part in a vigil in memory of the fallen during the D-Day invasion in 1944, in Bayeux, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

FILE - U.S. soldiers stand on the remains of a house as they inspect damage in Carentan, in the Normandy region of France, June 15, 1944. The 80th anniversary this week of D-Day is a mixed bag of emotions for French survivors of the Battle of Normandy. They remain eternally grateful for their liberation from Nazi occupation in World War II but cannot forget its steep cost in French lives. (AP Photo/Peter Carroll, File)

FILE - U.S. soldiers stand on the remains of a house as they inspect damage in Carentan, in the Normandy region of France, June 15, 1944. The 80th anniversary this week of D-Day is a mixed bag of emotions for French survivors of the Battle of Normandy. They remain eternally grateful for their liberation from Nazi occupation in World War II but cannot forget its steep cost in French lives. (AP Photo/Peter Carroll, File)

Roses lay ashore during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Roses lay ashore during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veterans Bill Wall, left, and Bob Tedesco attend a ceremony on Omaha Beach, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Normandy. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veterans Bill Wall, left, and Bob Tedesco attend a ceremony on Omaha Beach, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Normandy. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veteran Bill Wall throws roses into the water during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veteran Bill Wall throws roses into the water during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

The commemorations for the more than 4,400 Allied dead on D-Day and many tens of thousands more, including French civilians, killed in the ensuing Battle of Normandy were tinged with fear that World War II lessons are fading.

“There are things worth fighting for,” said Walter Stitt, who fought in tanks and turns 100 in July, as he visited Omaha Beach this week. “Although I wish there was another way to do it than to try to kill each other.”

“We’ll learn one of these days, but I won’t be around for that,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden directly linked Ukraine's fight for its young democracy to the battle to defeat Nazi Germany.

“To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators is simply unthinkable,” Biden said. “If we were to do that, it means we’d be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

As now-centenarian veterans revisited old memories and fallen comrades buried in Normandy graves, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's presence at the international D-Day commemoration fused World War II's awful past with the fraught present. The dead and wounded on both sides in Ukraine are estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

Despite Russia's absence, French President Emmanuel Macron paid homage to those who fought on the eastern front “and the resolute commitment of the Red Army and all the people who were part of the then-Soviet Union.”

But it was the landing on June 6, 1944, and the battles in Normandy that followed that ultimately drove the Nazis from France.

“You came here because the free world needed each and every one of you, and you answered the call,” Macron said. “You came here to make France a free nation. You’re back here today at home, if I may say.”

The French president awarded the Legion of Honor to 14 U.S. veterans and a British female veteran. Among the Americans was Edward Berthold, a pilot who carried out his three missions over France in May 1944, before taking part in an operation in Saint-Lo, in Normandy, on D-Day. He flew 35 combat missions in all during World War II.

Berthold later read aloud a letter he'd written home the next day, showing that even as a young man he was aware of D-Day's importance.

“Wednesday night, June 7th, 1944. Dear Mom, just a few lines to tell you we are all ok. We flew mission number 10 on D-Day," he wrote. “It certainly was a terrific show, what we could see. This is what everyone has been waiting for.”

Macron also bestowed the Legion of Honor on 103-year-old Christian Lamb, the daughter of a Royal Navy admiral who was studying in Normandy in 1939 when her father called her back to London. There, Lamb created detailed maps that guided the crews of landing craft on D-Day.

The French president bent down to Lamb in a wheelchair, pin the medal and kiss her on both cheeks, describing her as one of the “heroes in the shadows.”

Conscious of the inevitability of age and time for World War II veterans, throngs of aficionados in period uniforms and vehicles, along with tourists soaking up the spectacle, flooded Normandy for the 80th anniversary. At the international ceremony later, the veterans received a standing ovation as they were paraded before the stands in a stately line of wheelchairs to avoid the long walk across the beachfront promenade.

“We just have to remember the sacrifices of everybody who gave us our freedom,” said Becky Kraubetz, a Briton now living in Florida whose grandfather served with the British Army during World War II and was captured in Malta. She was among a crowd of thousands of people that stretched for several kilometers (miles) along Utah Beach, the westernmost of the D-Day beaches.

In a quiet spot away from the pomp, France's Christophe Receveur offered his own tribute, unfurling an American flag he had bought on a trip to Pennsylvania to honor those who died on D-Day.

“To forget them is to let them die all over again,” the 57-year-old said as he and his daughter, Julie, carefully refolded the flag into a tight triangle. Those now dying in Ukraine fighting the invading Russian army were also on his mind.

“All these troops came to liberate a country that they didn't know for an ideology — democracy, freedom — that is under severe strain now,” he said.

For Warren Goss, a 99-year-old American veteran of D-Day who landed in the first waves on Utah Beach, the sacrifice was affirmed by a visit years later to the same place where his comrades fell.

“I looked at the beach and it was beautiful, all the people, the kids were playing and I see the boys and girls were walking, holding hands, with their life back,” he told the Danish king and prime minister, who hung on his words.

The fair-like atmosphere on the five code-named beaches — Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword — was fueled by World War II-era jeeps and trucks tearing down hedge-rowed lanes so deadly for Allied troops who fought dug-in German defenders, and of reenactors playing at war on sands where D-Day soldiers fell.

But the real VIPs of the commemorations across the Normandy coast were the veterans who took part in the largest-ever land, sea and air armada that punctured Hitler’s defenses in Western Europe and helped precipitate his downfall 11 months later.

“They really were the golden generation, those 17-, 18-year-old guys doing something so brave,” said James Baker, a 56-year-old from the Netherlands, reflecting on Utah Beach.

Farther up the coast on Gold Beach, a military bagpiper played at precisely the time that British troops landed there 80 years ago.

The United Kingdom's King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were among those at a ceremony to honor the troops who landed there and on Sword Beach, while Prince William and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined others at ceremony for the Canadian troops at Juno Beach.

In his address, the king told the crowd that the world was fortunate that a generation “did not flinch" when they were called upon.

“Our obligation to remember what they stood for and what they achieved for us all can never diminish,” he said.

Speaking in French, Charles also paid tribute to the “unimaginable number” of French civilians killed in the battle for Normandy, and the bravery and sacrifice of the French Resistance.

Those who traveled to Normandy include women who were among the millions who built bombers, tanks and other weaponry and played other vital World War II roles that were long overshadowed by the combat exploits of men.

Feted everywhere they go in wheelchairs and walking with canes, veterans are using their voices to repeat their message they hope will live eternal: Never forget.

“We weren’t doing it for honors and awards. We were doing it to save our country," said 98-year-old Anna Mae Krier, who worked as a riveter building B-17 and B-29 bombers. “We ended up helping save the world.”

Associated Press writers Jill Lawless in London, and Jeffrey Schaeffer, Mark Carlson, Bela Szandelszky, Helena Alves and Alex Turnbull along the Normandy coast, contributed to this report.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk in the Normandy American Cemetery following a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk in the Normandy American Cemetery following a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd left, his wife Brigitte Macron, left, and US President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden attend a ceremony together with World War II veterans at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

French President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd left, his wife Brigitte Macron, left, and US President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden attend a ceremony together with World War II veterans at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A World War II veteran arrives for ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A World War II veteran arrives for ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

World War II veterans listen during a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

World War II veterans listen during a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, left, Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales, center, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lay flowers during the Canadian commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landing, at the Juno Beach Centre near Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Lou Benoist, Pool via AP)

France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, left, Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales, center, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lay flowers during the Canadian commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landing, at the Juno Beach Centre near Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Lou Benoist, Pool via AP)

From left, Britain's Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of France Emmanuel Macron, and Brigitte Macron walk through the memorial wall during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

From left, Britain's Queen Camilla, King Charles III, President of France Emmanuel Macron, and Brigitte Macron walk through the memorial wall during the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to Royal Navy D-Day veteran Albert Keir, 98, from Derbyshire, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to Royal Navy D-Day veteran Albert Keir, 98, from Derbyshire, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, discusses with Britain's King Charles III during a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty stand with D-Day veteran Alec Penstone, 98, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty stand with D-Day veteran Alec Penstone, 98, following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98, from Surrey following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Queen Camilla speaks to D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98, from Surrey following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, held at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, Thursday June 6, 2024. (Gareth Fuller, Pool Photo via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Queen Camilla attend a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Queen Camilla attend a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day" Allied landings in Normandy, at the World War II British Normandy Memorial of Ver-sur-Mer, Thursday, June 6, 2024. Normandy is hosting various events to officially commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that took place on June 6, 1944. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

Re enactors and participants take part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors and participants take part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A re enactor takes part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A re enactor takes part in a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A military plane flies over an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A military plane flies over an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive at the Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Carpiquet, France, enroute to ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive at the Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Carpiquet, France, enroute to ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

People take picturesa at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

People take picturesa at an US cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Participants watch as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Participants watch as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A participant watches as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A participant watches as a plane flies past during a ceremony near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

A pipe band plays during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A pipe band plays during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Participants march during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Participants march during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors pose for a photo during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors pose for a photo during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are silhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are silhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Christophe Receveur and his daughter Julie, of France, unfold an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur and his daughter Julie, of France, unfold an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Christophe Receveur, of France, unfurls an American flag he bought six month ago in Gettysburg, Penn., to mark D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024 on Utah Beach, Normandy. As the sun sets on the D-Day generation, it's rising again over Normandy beaches where soldiers fought and died exactly 80 years ago, kicking off intense anniversary commemorations Thursday against the backdrop of renewed war in Europe, in Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Sun rises over Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Sun rises over Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A re enactor holds a lantern during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A re enactor holds a lantern during a ceremony at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Re enactors are sillhouetted against the sunrise at Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Vareville Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

A pipe band makes the procession from Bayeux Cathedral to the military cemetery walking in front of Britain's Princess Anne and other dignitaries to take part in a vigil in memory of the fallen during the D-Day invasion in 1944, in Bayeux, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

A pipe band makes the procession from Bayeux Cathedral to the military cemetery walking in front of Britain's Princess Anne and other dignitaries to take part in a vigil in memory of the fallen during the D-Day invasion in 1944, in Bayeux, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

FILE - U.S. soldiers stand on the remains of a house as they inspect damage in Carentan, in the Normandy region of France, June 15, 1944. The 80th anniversary this week of D-Day is a mixed bag of emotions for French survivors of the Battle of Normandy. They remain eternally grateful for their liberation from Nazi occupation in World War II but cannot forget its steep cost in French lives. (AP Photo/Peter Carroll, File)

FILE - U.S. soldiers stand on the remains of a house as they inspect damage in Carentan, in the Normandy region of France, June 15, 1944. The 80th anniversary this week of D-Day is a mixed bag of emotions for French survivors of the Battle of Normandy. They remain eternally grateful for their liberation from Nazi occupation in World War II but cannot forget its steep cost in French lives. (AP Photo/Peter Carroll, File)

Roses lay ashore during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Roses lay ashore during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veterans Bill Wall, left, and Bob Tedesco attend a ceremony on Omaha Beach, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Normandy. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veterans Bill Wall, left, and Bob Tedesco attend a ceremony on Omaha Beach, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Normandy. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veteran Bill Wall throws roses into the water during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

American WWII veteran Bill Wall throws roses into the water during a wreath-laying ceremony at Utah Beach, Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Utah Beach, Normandy,. World War II veterans from across the United States as well as Britain and Canada are in Normandy this week to mark 80 years since the D-Day landings that helped lead to Hitler's defeat. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

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Nick Gonzales hits winning single in 9th, Pirates rally for 8-7 win over Phillies

2024-07-20 11:13 Last Updated At:11:21

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Nick Gonzales hit the winning RBI single in the ninth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied from a three-run deficit for an 8-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

With the Pirates trailing 7-6, Connor Joe led off the ninth with a single before José Alvarado (1-4) walked Andrew McCutchen. Michael A. Taylor, running for Joe, and McCutchen executed a double steal. Oneil Cruz brought in the tying run on a one-out fielder’s choice.

Gonzales then sent a first-pitch cutter through the left side of the infield to defeat the Phillies, who have lost three of four in front of a sellout crowd of 39,530, the largest in the regular season at PNC Park since April 13, 2015.

“I don’t think so," Gonzales said when asked whether he'd played in a more memorable game. "Just the back and forth, especially against them, it’s pretty cool to do. It kind of shows that we can compete against the best.”

The Pirates have won five in a row to move over .500 at 49-48 for the first time since April 24.

Carmen Mlodzinski (2-3) allowed two singles in the ninth before retiring three in a row.

Weston Wilson, who had a career-best three hits, put the Phillies ahead 4-3 in the third inning with a home run to left, his first this season and second in the majors. He capped a three-run first inning with his first of two singles, grounding it off the chest of third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes to follow a two-run double from Nick Castellanos.

“(Wilson is) a baseball player,” Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said. “He can run. He can hit. ... He's a baseball player, so we're giving him a chance here. Hopefully, he grabs it.”

Cruz drove in the first of Pittsburgh’s three runs off Aaron Nola in the first, hitting a double with an exit velocity of 120.5 mph to center. He led off the third with another double before scoring on a sacrifice fly to tie it 4-all.

“He was outstanding," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think if anybody needed the four days, it was him, because I think you guys saw him in Chicago. He was beat up and he wasn’t moving at full speed. To be able to get him back to healthy I think is really important.”

Nola was tagged for four runs and six hits with four strikeouts in five innings.

“Early in the game, he looked a little bit rusty,” Thomson said. “Seven days off between starts. A lot of stressful pitches early.”

Trea Turner put the Phillies up for a third time with a two-run homer off Pirates starter Martín Pérez in the fourth inning. Edmundo Sosa scored on Kyle Schwarber’s sacrifice fly to make it 7-4 in the fifth.

Pérez lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks.

Cruz hit an RBI infield single in front of Rowdy Tellez’s third sacrifice fly of the night that cut the deficit to 7-6 in the seventh.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: LHP Ranger Suárez threw Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, going out to 120 feet and throwing a flat-ground session before the game. He missed the All-Star Game with low back spasms. ... RHP Zack Wheeler (back tightness) also threw 120 feet on Friday but did not have a flat-ground session.

Pirates: LHP Bailey Falter threw a live bullpen on Thursday. He was placed on the 15-day injured list with left triceps tendinitis on July 7.

UP NEXT

RHP Luis Ortiz (4-2, 2.84 ERA) will take the mound for the Pirates on Saturday, opposite Phillies LHP Cristopher Sánchez (7-4, 2.96).

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Martín Pérez delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Martín Pérez delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales hits a walkoff single off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales hits a walkoff single off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper celebrates with teammates in the dugout after coming around to score in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper celebrates with teammates in the dugout after coming around to score in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos celebrates after hitting a two-run RBI double in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Nick Castellanos celebrates after hitting a two-run RBI double in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Weston Wilson celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Weston Wilson celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Trea Turner (7) reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run off of Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Martin Perez in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Trea Turner (7) reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run off of Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Martin Perez in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Oneil Cruz hits an RBI double in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Oneil Cruz hits an RBI double in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen slides in safely to third base in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen slides in safely to third base in the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Garrett Stubbs reacts after being hit by a pitch in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Philadelphia Phillies' Garrett Stubbs reacts after being hit by a pitch in the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales, center, is is congratulated by teammates after hitting a walkoff single off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales, center, is is congratulated by teammates after hitting a walkoff single off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales, center, is mobbed by teammates after hitting a walkoff single off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales, center, is mobbed by teammates after hitting a walkoff single off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales, right, reacts after hitting a walkoff single off of Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Nick Gonzales, right, reacts after hitting a walkoff single off of Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

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