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Helen Patton, granddaughter of US General George Patton, reacts after she was parachuted during a U.S.-German D-Day commemoration ceremony in honor of airborne soldiers on June 5, 2014 in Picauville, northern France. / Jean-Sebastien Evrard, AFP/Getty Images

A previous version of this article provided an incorrect age. Helen Patton is 52.

SAINT-PIERRE-DU-MONT, France - Helen Patton is here for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but the granddaughter of the famous World War II general doesn't want a somber ceremony.

Patton, 52, will host two concerts to bookend Friday's official ceremony with world leaders as a way to attract young people to remember the battle.

"With the Patton concerts, we want to find a new way to commemorate, something different than the same old-same old with military drums," said the granddaughter of Gen. George S. Patton.

As she put it: "Let's do war and peace" ‚?? emphasis on the latter.

The concerts are among hundreds of events large and small in the French province of Normandy to commemorate the invasion and the ensuing Battle of Normandy, which lasted several weeks and cost thousands of lives.

Every small village has something on the calendar, often involving processions of schoolchildren and wreath-laying ceremonies at liberation monuments that dot the region.

Among this year's celebrations:

‚?ĘThe town of Bayeux, pop. 14,000, will hold more than a dozen major events through June 14, ranging from an open-air photo exhibit to a Flash Mob du D-Day gathering.

‚?ĘIn Caen, a small group called Amiti√© Franco-Americaine (French American Friendship) honors a different U.S. soldier every year by creating a shrine at the place he was killed. This year, the spotlight is on Maj. Richard O'Malley.

‚?ĘThe news on France 3, one of the country`s major television networks, is broadcast live from a different Allied landing site each day.

"We will never forget," Philippe Laillier, mayor of Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, said before going on the air as a guest on a France 3 newscast at Omaha Beach. "There are families of veterans and French families that have maintained lasting contacts over the last 70 years."

Thousands of visitors from around the world are expected in the region over this weekend. Houses and buildings are decorated with more American flags than one might see stateside on July 4, though the stars-and-stripes often share space with French, British and Canadian banners.

Friday's main ceremony will include President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Saturday, Patton plans a repeat of Thursday's concert, which took place on a stage at Utah Beach, one of the two spots where American troops made amphibious landings June 6, 1944.

The second concert will be in the small village of Néhou, where Patton's grandfather was stationed while waiting to lead his 3rd Army deeper into France and eventually into west-central Europe to spearhead the Allied effort in the Battle of the Bulge.

The area encompassing what's now called Camp Patton in Néhou was until recently owned by Benedictine nuns. About two decades ago, they offered Helen Patton the chance to take it over, along with a former monastery that had, among other things, served as a Wehrmacht officers headquarters during the German occupation.

At the time, she was settling in with her husband, a German doctor, on the German side of the French-German border. Patton, a mother and housewife, was organizing theater productions. During the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s, she invited youths from rival ethnic groups to Germany to participate in an artistic workshop. That led to the creation of a German-based foundation called the Patton Stiftung Sustainable Trust. Later she founded the independent U.S.-based Patton Foundation. The two organizations co-organized the D-Day concerts.

Douglas Gordon, president and CEO of the Patton Foundation, views the concerts as a new way to preserve fading memories. "We want to get the story out about the sacrifice made during World War II to young people," he said.

"Music attracts younger people." Gordon said that for many youngsters, "70 years ago can seem like 500 years ago."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Gen. Patton's granddaughter plans D-Day concerts

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