Governor O'Malley Joins President Obama, World Leaders For 65th Anniversary of D-Day

  • Published
  • By Governor's Press Office
Governor Martin O'Malley today joined President Obama, French President Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Brown in Normandy, France to participate in ceremonies commemorating the 65th anniversary of D-Day, and in particular, Maryland's historic role in the invasion. 

The Governor is in Normandy as a guest of the 29th Infantry Division Association, which represents veterans who previously served in the 29th Infantry Division. The 29th Infantry Division was the only National Guard division to land on D-Day, and was comprised of units representing Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Since his arrival yesterday, the Governor has attended commemoration ceremonies along Omaha Beach, including observances at the American cemetery at Coleville-sur-Mer, and the National Guard and the 29th Infantry Division memorials, both of which are located at Vierville-sur-Mer.

"The historic landings here sixty-five years ago remind us that our freedom must be defended, and often comes with the ultimate sacrifice," said Governor O'Malley. "The beaches of Normandy are hallowed ground. The efforts of those selfless soldiers, many of whom never made it off this expansive beachhead, and in particular those Marylanders from the famed 29th Infantry Division, changed the course of history. Those soldiers who served so bravely here represented the best that Maryland had to offer, and as our greatest generation, deserve our unwavering gratitude."

In addition to the larger commemoration ceremonies, the Governor participated in a wreath-laying ceremony in the town of St. Laurent, and attended a dinner in honor of those 29th Infantry Division veterans who participated in the D-Day invasion and traveled to France to participate in the 65th anniversary celebration.

"In a broader sense, Governor O'Malley's trip to Normandy not only honors those Marylanders who participated in the D-Day landings, but also those men and women who have served and continue to serve our state and our nation in times of peace and war" said Brig. Gen. James A. Adkins, adjutant general of Maryland and secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. "Of the more than 288,000 Maryland men and women who served in World War II, nearly 6,500 never made it home. They made the ultimate sacrifice, all in the name of preserving freedom for generations to come."

During the remainder of his overseas trip, the Governor will travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Estonia where he will hold meetings with military and civilian leaders representing both governments as well as business leaders as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP). The SPP brings together U.S states and territories and their respective National Guard units with new or emerging democracies throughout the world.

The State of Maryland and the Maryland National Guard have long-standing partnerships under SPP with both Estonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina dating back to 1993 and 2003 respectively. Maryland has played a key role in working with both governments in fostering democracy, encouraging market-based economies and promoting regional cooperation and stability.

There are currently more than 280 Soldiers and Airmen of the Maryland National Guard deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. There have been more than 10,500 Soldiers and Airmen of the Maryland National Guard mobilized and deployed since 9-11 for Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Jump Start, KFOR as well as hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav.