A ceremony on Liberty Island paid tribute to the troops who lost their lives and those who survived on the 70th anniversary of the invasion by Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy, France, known as D-Day. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Navy veteran Larry Janos of Queens says he was was among the first wave to hit the beach at Normandy.
"A sniper got me in the arm. And if I was standing this way, he would of got me. I just moved, and he got me in the arm," Janos said. "After the doctors bandaged me, I went back to my post and unloaded the entire ship."
Janos was one of the veterans honored on Liberty Island during a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed in France to begin the invasion of Nazi-occupied Western Europe. At least 4,400 were killed on the first day of a battle that was ultimately a decisive victory for the Allies.
The not-for-profit association "The French Will Never Forget" hosted Friday's events.
"Because so many American soldiers fell on that day and gave their lives for our freedom in France, we wanted to honor them," said Paul Bensabat of The French Will Never Forget.
That included the dropping of 1 million rose petals from helicopters above Lady Liberty.
More than 100 schoolchildren from the U.S. and France unfurled giant flags from both countries as the French Navy Frigate Lafayette paid tribute offshore.
World War II veterans were presented with medals, appropriately below the iconic statue, which was a gift from the people of France.
"France is what it is today, a free and sovereign country," said Bertrand Lortholary, consul general of France in New York. "We will never forget that it is thanks to you."
World War II veterans that NY1 spoke to on Liberty Island said they enjoyed the ceremony, and they also appreciated the gratitude shown by the French people. That includes 88-year-old NY Waterway President and CEO Arthur Imperatore, who got emotional looking back.
"Every day, I have strong memories of the war, guys I grew up with that didn't come back, people who I got to know later who were in the invasion," Imperatore said.
Both those who made it back home, and those who didn't, were remembered for their roles on that day.