COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — Families of fallen soldiers and dwindling numbers of veterans of the D-Day invasion gathered on the Normandy shore Wednesday to mark 74 years since the massive military operation that helped change the course of World War II.

Gusts of wind blew through a heavy mist as relatives and others paid respects at the American military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, above the sandy expanse known as Omaha Beach.

Ceremonies have been held this week at memorial sites along the cliffs and beaches where Allied forces landed in Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944.

The invasion weakened the Nazis’ hold on Western Europe after they suffered a punishing defeat in Stalingrad in the east.

This year’s commemorations were relatively low-key; bigger events are planned for the 75th anniversary next year.

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