The International Sister Cities of Rochester committee hosted a celebration to commemorate the upcoming 70th anniversary of WWII D-Day invasion of Normandy by allied forces in June of 1944. That led to the liberation of France and Rochester’s first sister city, Rennes.
Council members Loretta Scott and Carolee Conklin along with Mayor Warren signed a proclamation declaring April 25th through August 4th "Freedom and Liberation Days" in Rochester.
“The Sister Cities program is doing its part ot ensure one of the darkest moments in our shared history is never repeated,” says Conklin, the president of the local chapter of the sister cities. “Rochester played a large part in WWII in the ultimate victory. We had war planes here. We built boats down in Greece. We sent literally thousands men overseas."
As part of a series of events kicking off in honor of the anniversary, the World War Two C-47 cargo plane from the Geneseo War Plane Museum will return to France to celebrate the June 6th D-Day anniversary.
"Taking that airplane back is a symbol, particularly, of the parachute regiments that dropped in to Normandy that day and ready for that landing,” says Austin Wadsworth is the president of the museum. “And the sacrifice that everybody made - both the living the ones who are not with us anymore."
A couple local veterans who participated in the allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe attended the day's event.
"It’s hard,” John Foy, WWII vet of General Pattons Army, says. “I mean every time you talk about it you think about your friends that you lost there. We …lost a lot of good friends over there. It’s a happy occasion for the anniversary but a sad occasion for what it cost us."
Rochester has a strong Sister Cities relationship with Rennes France, which was liberated by the allies on August 4th 1944.
The Sister Cities program helps cities rebuild after WWII.
Friday's, celebration included a concert by Nazareth College's Franco-American Choir, which performed songs in multiple languages about freedom and liberation.