Anti-French sentiment keeps US vets away

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The Independent Online

American war veterans are planning to stay away from the D-Day celebrations in Normandy, possibly because of anti-French animosity stemming from the war in Iraq, organisers have told The Independent on Sunday.

American war veterans are planning to stay away from the D-Day celebrations in Normandy, possibly because of anti-French animosity stemming from the war in Iraq, organisers have told The Independent on Sunday.

More than 10,000 US veterans of the 1944 D-Day landings were expected to return to Normandy this June. But some have decided to stay at home.

Claire Thomine of Normandy Memoire - the organisation set up to oversee the weekend's events - said the number of Americans making the trip was far smaller than had been anticipated. "We don't know if it's because it's a bit far and they are too old or it's something between France and the US over Iraq."

A spokesman for the US Department for Veteran Affairs denied old soldiers were snubbing the celebrations, although he admitted that some veterans wouldn't be making the trip. "It's a question of economics," he said, "not politics." More than 150,000 British, Canadian and American troops landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944.

Many of the 8,000 surviving British veterans will be out in force. Mme Thomine said that organisers had been inundated with offers from families to put veterans up.

"We've grown up with this history and this is a perfect way to thank the veterans for what they did," she said.

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