About 35 members of Congress will join President Obama and thousands of visitors from across the globe who Friday will descend on Normandy, France, for ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The congressional delegation, including eight senators and about 25 House members, will take part in observances at Omaha Beach and Sword Beach, where Allied Forces launched the largest sea-borne invasion in history on June 6, 1944.
"Seven decades later, we are still humbled and awed by the audacity, the bravery and the sacrifice of the Normandy landings," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who will jointly lead her chamber's delegation with fellow Californian and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, a Republican.
Obama will join French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron in France to mark the anniversary of the bloody battle that resulted in almost 10,000 Allied casualties and claimed more than Allied 4,000 lives.
The landing, which included more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and more than 150,000 servicemen, was a major tipping point in World War II that eventually led the Allied Forces to victory.
The congressional delegation also will participate in briefings with the U.S. Embassy in Paris and meet with French National Assembly President Claude Bartolone.
"With thankfulness we celebrate and commemorate the Greatest Generation and the freedom and opportunity they provided for future generations," said Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., who will be among about a dozen House Republicans in France. "In the face of extreme danger, they exemplified bravery and valor on the beaches of Normandy."
While the House is on recess this week, the Senate delegation was scheduled to fly to France at the conclusion of votes Thursday afternoon. The delegation, led by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., will include Democratic Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.