President Obama called Normandy “democracy’s beachhead” in ceremonies on the French coast today to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
He gave thanks to the French for taking care of the resting place of so many American soldiers “like the true friends you are.”
“Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are; we don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is. We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at this moment of maximum peril. And we come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world,” Obama said.
“America’s claim — our commitment — to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being, that claim is written in the blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity.”
The president added that “our victory in that war decided not just a century, but shaped the security and well- being of all posterity.”
“We worked to turn old adversaries into new allies. We built new prosperity. We stood once more with the people of this continent through a long twilight struggle until finally, a wall tumbled down, and an Iron Curtain, too. From Western Europe to East, from South America to Southeast Asia, 70 years of democratic movements spread. And nations that once knew only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom,” he said.
“None of that would have happened without the men who were willing to lay down their lives for people they’d never met and ideals they couldn’t live without. None of it would have happened without the troops President Roosevelt called ‘the life-blood of America, the hope of the world.’”
Obama said the legacy of the World War II veterans is “in good hands.”
“For in a time when it has never been more tempting to pursue narrow self-interest, to slough off common endeavor, this generation of Americans — a new generation, our men and women of war — have chosen to do their part, as well,” he said.
“And as today’s wars come to an end, this generation of servicemen and women will step out of uniform. And they, too, will build families and lives of their own. They, too, will become leaders in their communities, in commerce and industry, and perhaps politics, the leaders we need for the beachheads of our time. And, God willing, they, too, will grow old in the land they helped to keep free. And someday, future generations, whether 70 or 700 years hence, will gather at places like this to honor them and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) led the bipartisan delegation to Omaha Beach.
“Standing on this shore with the men who risked their lives to take this ground; among the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, words fail me. I am reminded of what General Eisenhower said launching their mission,” McKeon said. “The eyes of the world are still upon these men. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere still march with them.”