Trump, Macron Give Thanks for Sacrifice, Bravery on 75th D-Day Commemoration
Near the beaches of Normandy, where thousands of troops gave their lives 75 years ago in a battle that led to the defeat of Nazism, national leaders honored veterans and those who died.
“We are gathered here on freedom’s altar,” President Trump said during a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He, French President Emmanuel Macron and dozens of veterans were gathered with up to 12,000 others at the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France.
“You are among the greatest Americans who will ever live,” Trump said to D-Day veterans. “You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The president turned around to applaud the D-Day veterans seated behind him, crowned in veteran caps and bundled in blankets. One veteran snapped a picture of the president, stood and gave a big thumbs up, video shows. Others saluted. The crowd cheered, stood and applauded.
Trump tweeted earlier about his trip to Normandy, saying “We are eternally grateful!” His tweet includes a video of veterans recalling the invasion.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2019
Historians acknowledge that at least 4,413 Allied troops died on D-Day. The chaos of the day makes it difficult to truly know how many died. Several clerks who would have kept the data died in the invasion.
Stretched before the guests, rows of white crosses and Stars of David marked the graves of more than 9,380 fallen. Trump noted that French families had adopted each of the grave markers. “They kneel, they cry, they pray, they place flowers and they never forget,” Trump said. “Today America embraces the French people and thanks you for honoring our beloved war dead.”
Macron spoke before Trump, praising the courage, generosity and fortitude of the troops who fought that day to free France. “That fortitude that had taken them thousands of miles from home to provide assistance to men and women who they did not know, to free a land they had never set foot in, with no other compass than a cause that they knew was greater than themselves. The cause of liberty and democracy. ”
“France has not forgotten those fighters to whom we owe the right to live in freedom,” Macron said in French, with English translation. “We have not forgotten the 135,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers, backed by Belgium, Luxembourg, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Czechoslovak, Australian, New Zealand, South African and French troops, landed on the sixth of June on the beaches of Normandy and forever changed the course of history in Europe and the world.”
After several minutes of speaking in French, Macron turned towards the veterans and spoke in English. “We know what we owe to you, veterans: our freedom. On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you.” He turned around and applauded the veterans.
Macron awarded five American veterans with France’s highest award, the Chevalier of Legion of Honor.