Western leaders and ageing veterans will gather on the shores of France on Thursday in a second day of events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied amphibious assault that opened the way for western Europe's liberation from Hitler's forces.
An hour after sunrise, at 7.26am, a lone piper will play atop the remnants of an artificial harbor built in the waters off Arromanches to resupply the invasion force, to mark the precise moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.
Later, French President Emmanuel Macron, United States President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May will attend events along the 80km stretch of Normandy coast where more than 150,000 troops landed under a hail of artillery and machine-gun fire.
Mr Macron evoked the spirit of D-Day on Wednesday as he spoke of the modern need for multilateralism and international cooperation, an area where the US and its European allies have been increasingly at odds during Mr Trump's administration.
These allied forces that together freed us from the German yoke, and from tyranny, are the same ones that were able to build the existing multilateral structures after World War II, Mr Macron told reporters after an event in Normandy to honor the French Resistance.
We must not repeat history, and remind ourselves what was built on the basis of the war.
The Normandy landings was the largest seaborne invasion in history, a feat months in the planning and kept secret from Nazi Germany despite a huge trans-Atlantic mobilization of industry and manpower.
In blustery winds in the early hours of June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied paratroopers jumped behind Germany's coastal defenses. Then, as day broke, warships pounded German positions before hundreds of landing craft disgorged the infantry troops.
Survivors recall the sea being red with blood. Thousands were killed on both sides on the beaches, codenamed Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha by the Allies.
Lines of white marble crosses on the cliff top above Omaha Beach today mark the resting place of more than 9,380 US soldiers who died during the landings and ensuing operations.
Here, Mr Trump will watch Mr Macron award the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest award for merit, to five US veterans before the two presidents leave for a working lunch in nearby Caen.
On the south coast of England, Britain's Queen Elizabeth led presidents and prime ministers on Wednesday in paying tribute to surviving D-Day veterans and their fallen comrades.
The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten, the 93-year-old monarch said.
It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country - indeed the whole free world - that I say to you all: thank you.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the sacrifice of tens of thousands of soldiers in a military operation that brought freedom from National Socialism to Germany.
That I, as German chancellor, can be here today, that today we stand together for peace and freedom, is a gift from history that must be cared for and protected, she said.
Mr Trump read a prayer spoken by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, capping a three-day state visit to Britain where he had lavished praise on the US ally and said wartime bonds forged the greatest alliance the world has ever known.
Mr Trump's forthright diplomacy and America First policy have, however, shaken the Nato alliance and tested relations with erstwhile allies including Britain and France.
Amid the D-Day ceremonies, Russia told the West that the Allied war effort should not be exaggerated.
Speaking at a weekly news conference in Moscow on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova offered a tribute to those who died on WWII's western front and said Moscow appreciated the Allied war effort.
It should, of course, not be exaggerated. And especially not at the same time as diminishing the Soviet Union's titanic efforts, without which this victory simply would not have happened, she said.
The Soviet Union lost over 25 million lives in what it calls the Great Patriotic War, and Moscow under President Vladimir Putin has taken to marking victory in the war with a massive annual military parade on Red Square.
”As historians note, the Normandy landing did not have a decisive impact on the outcome of World War II and the Great Patriotic War. It had already been pre-determined as a result of the Red Army's victories, mainly at Stalingrad (in late 1942) and Kursk (in mid-1943),” Ms Zakharova told reporters.