Allied veterans and families of their fallen comrades gathered Saturday at the U.S. cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach to mark the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasion that helped defeat the Nazis in World War II.

Visitors and cadets from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland watched as a bagpipe band paraded at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, amid the thousands of white marble crosses and Stars of David of servicemen and women who lost their lives during the invasion.

The invasion began shortly after midnight on June 6, 1944, with a perilous airborne operation led by paratroopers of the "Screaming Eagles" 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne divisions.

At dawn, thousands of Allied troops leaped out of landing craft to storm the beaches under ferocious German attacks.