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Highlights from the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy

Because freedom is worth celebrating and passing on to children, too, Alexandra Hamon, 35, drank champagne and shared the sunrise with her boys, Karl and Neils, both 13, as the day dawned Thursday over the beaches where Allied soldiers landed on D-Day.

The family was among a crowd several thousands strong that stretched for kilometers along Utah beach — one of the five beaches along the coast of Normandy where Allied troops landed. Utah and Omaha were taken — at the cost of hundreds of lives — by American forces, with the others stormed by troops from Britain and Canada, also killing many hundreds, plus others from France. The other code-named beaches are Juno, Sword and Gold.

Karl sat perched on the hood of their 1943 Dodge truck, lovingly restored by her husband, Enogat, as the family from Saint Malo, a French coastal city that was badly damaged in major fighting about two months after D-Day, stared out across the English Channel.

The waters Thursday were still and peaceful — unlike on that fateful day that helped change the course of WWII and precipitate Adolf Hitler’s downfall 11 months later.

“It’s indescribable, just imagining the chaos. Now it’s peaceful, almost festive, we try to imagine but I think it’s unimaginable,” she said.

“You think of all those guys, everything they went through,” she added of the fast-dwindling D-Day veterans. “They say they aren’t heroes. But they are, they are. Those guys really should never die. I imagine the boats, the guys arriving, the sounds. It must have been horrible, yes, horrible.”