COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France – President Donald Trump paid tribute to the Allied troops who stormed the beaches here 75 years ago on D-Day and praised the unity of U.S. allies who helped turn the course of World War II and defeat Nazi Germany.
Honoring a tradition dating to the Carter administration, Trump delivered remarks to thousands gathered at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where 9,388 American military dead are buried. Omaha Beach, where U.S. troops faced some of the fiercest fighting on June 6, 1944, is visible from the stage.
“We are gathered here on Freedom’s Altar,” Trump told the audience. “Today, we remember those who fell here, and we honor all who fought here. They won back this ground for civilization.”
The president, who shared the stage with more than 60 veterans, will later watch a flyover on Omaha Beach and take part in a viewing at the cemetery, the White House said.
“Hey, you’re our president, too. Come on up this way,” one of the veterans called out as Trump took the stage, later telling the president that there were a lot of people in Pennsylvania who looked forward to voting for him in 2020.
Trump alliances: European allies made the D-Day landing at Normandy possible
Like his predecessors, Trump pai homage to the 160,000 American and Allied troops who landed here, opening a critical second front against Nazi Germany and ultimately pursuing Adolf Hitler’s forces across the Rhine River in early 1945. But unlike past U.S. presidents, Trump will face challenges in discussing the institutions that rose out of the fighting, such as the western military alliance known as NATO.
Past presidents have focused heavily on those institutions during their D-Day remarks, but Trump has often accused them of “ripping off” the United States. Excerpts of Trump’s remarks indicate he will discuss the importance of U.S. allies.
“To all of our friends and partners – our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace,” Trump said. “Our bond is unbreakable.”
Trump will likely be one of the last presidents to address living U.S. veterans of D-Day at the site of their heroism. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that just under 500,000 U.S. World War II veterans were still living in late 2018. By 2024, when the 80th anniversary of D-Day will take place, the agency projects just more than 87,000 World War II veterans will still be alive.
“What resonates still, 75 years later, is their incredible courage and generosity,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the audience. “France has not forgotten.”
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