Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Commemorations: This Is How to Do It

I can't imagine the work that went in to planning the 70-year commemoration of D-Day, which featured no fewer than 19 heads of states and monarchs. Far from a major city. Outdoors. Flanked by what appear to be thousands of veterans and spectators.  Just the thought of coordinating all of the helicopter landings and security details raises my blood pressure.

But, given the orgy of amazing photos coming out of this event, it's totally worth it. The past and the future of Europe's leadership blend really nicely at this one (Queen Elizabeth, I should note, is actually a WWII veteran).

Excited: A female decorated war veteran appeared thrilled to meet President Obama face to face at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer

Do you think she thought in 1945, that 70 years later she would be meeting the U.S. president while someone took a picture of her with something called an iPhone? Nonetheless, it's sweet how thrilled she is. A lot of my favorite photos from today are of veterans mingling with POTUS and others and participating in the ceremonies.

Gathering: State leaders gather for lunch on Friday at Chateau De Benouville on Friday. Obama and Putin, who have not yet met on the trip, are both in attendance

I know it's impossible to avoid smushing them all together for an awkward group photo, but man, think of all the collective time spent chit-chatting while waiting for Putin not to look Photoshopped in. And then giving up. I'm really glad Queen Elizabeth and Queen Margrethe (who, btw, are related) are in there to break up the black-suited bloc; Queen Maxima was there too, (not in the group photo, I believe, because she is not technically a head of state), and looked absolutely lovely, which she always does, because, hello, she's originally Argentine, and they know what works for them.

Kidding around: President Obama has a laugh with Queen Maxima of e Netherlands at the international D-Day commemoration ceremony in Ouistreham, France

Yeah, she is totally who I would talk to in order to feel less awkward among some of the other folks at this party.

Meeting: Putin is pictured in his first meeting with Ukraine president-elect Petro Poroshenko since the election. They chatted with Germany's Angela Merkel following the photograph on Friday

Cough, cough. For the billionth time in 2014, let me say "we are all so lucky to have Angela Merkel." She is not leaving Poroshenko alone with Putin yet some adult supervision. Also, this photo got me wondering about which language people used all day. I think she and Putin are the only folks present who aren't really comfortable in English, and that's Putin's interpreter on the far right. So Poroshenko probably has a 30-second jump on what he's saying as she waits for it to be translated into German. The same interpreter is on duty when he chats with Obama in other photos, so color me impressed: simultaneous interpretation into one language is really, really difficult, but to work in two is seriously impressive.

Oh, and, of course:

Warm: The Duchess of Cambridge beams as she chats to a veteran at a tea party in Arromanches

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