During the D-Day ceremony, an American veteran hugs Ukrainian Zelensky and calls him a savior


OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) — A U.S. veteran and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared an emotional moment during a ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion to liberate France during the Second World War they praised each other as heroes.

Retired Staff Sgt. Melvin Hurwitz, 99, and other veterans met Thursday with foreign dignitaries commemorating the Normandy landings. Upon meeting Zelenskyy, Hurwitz kissed the Ukrainian leader’s hand and pulled him in for an extended hug, exclaiming, “Oh, you are the savior of the people!”

A beaming Zelensky responded: “No, no, no, you… you saved Europe.” The watching audience erupted with applause and Hurwitz asked for a photo with the Ukrainian president. He told Zelenskyy that he is praying for him.

The conflict in Ukraine hung over the anniversary, a grim reminder of it the war has returned to Europe. The Ukrainian president was greeted with a standing ovation and cheers. Russia, a crucial World War II ally that launched a full-scale invasion of its smaller neighbor in 2022, was not invited.

The commemorations for the more than 4,400 Allied deaths on D-Day and many tens of thousands more, including French citizenskilled in the subsequent Battle of Normandy, were steeped in fear The lessons of World War II are fading.

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