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A World War II Veteran Just Married His Bride Near Normandy’s D-Day Beaches. He’s 100, she’s 96

CARENTAN-LES-MARAIS, France (AP) — Together, the collective age of the bride and groom was nearly 200. But World War II veteran Harold Terens and his sweetheart Jeanne Swerlin proved that love is eternal as they tied the knot Saturday inland of the D-Day beaches in Normandy, France.

Though perhaps not the wedding of the century, their respective ages — he’s 100, she’s a youngster of just 96 — made their nuptials an almost double-century celebration.

The location was the elegant stone-worked town hall of Carentan, a key initial D-Day objective that saw ferocious fighting after the June 6, 1944, Allied landings that helped rid Europe of Adolf Hitler’s tyranny.

Like other towns and villages across the Normandy coast where nearly 160,000 Allied troops came ashore under fire on five code-named beaches, it’s an effervescent hub of remembrance and celebration on the 80th anniversary for the deeds and sacrifices of young men and women that day, festooned with flags and bunting and with veterans feted like rockstars.

FILE – World War II veteran Harold Terens, 100, right, and Jeanne Swerlin, 96, pose for a photo, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Boca Raton, Fla. Together, the collective age of the bride and groom was nearly 200. But Terens and his sweetheart Jeanne Swerlin proved that love is eternal as they tied the knot Saturday, June 8, 2024, inland of the D-Day beaches in Normandy, France. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

As the swing of Glenn Miller and other period tunes rang out on the streets, well-wishers were already lined up a good hour before the wedding, behind barriers outside the town hall.

After both declaring “oui” to vows read by a deputy mayor, the couple waved to the adoring crowds outside, flutes of champagne in hand.

Terens called it ″the best day of my life.″

The wedding was symbolic, not binding in law. Mayor Jean-Pierre Lhonneur’s office said he wasn’t empowered to wed foreigners who weren’t residents of Carentan, and that the couple, who are both American, hadn’t requested legally binding vows. However, they could always complete those formalities back in Florida if they wished.

Lhonneur likes to say that Normandy is practically a 51st state of the USA, given its reverence and gratitude for veterans and the sacrifices of the tens of thousands of Allied soldiers who never made it home from the Battle of Normandy.

Dressed in a 1940s dress that belonged to her mother, Louise, and a red beret, 73-year-old Jane Ollier was among the early-bird spectators who waited for a glimpse of the happy couple.

“It’s so touching to get married at that age,” she said. ‘’If it can bring them happiness in the last years of their lives, that’s fantastic.”


By JOHN LEICESTER Associated Press

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