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"When they were young, they saved the world," President Clinton declared of the American forces who swept into France 50 years ago today. Despite the plethora of head-of-state types on hand at the ceremonies, old soldiers from the Allied armies took center stage. D-day claimed thousands of lives and marked just the beginning of the long assault to push back the Germans, who finally surrounded a year later. In all, 405,000 American soldiers perished in World War II.