Reagan set the tone for D-Day observances

Before him, presidents acknowledged the D-Day invasion with words or statements, but none made a pilgrimage to the site
Associated Press
Jun 5, 2014

President Barack Obama is the fourth sitting president to attend a D-Day anniversary observance in Normandy and the only president to visit the site of the allied invasion twice during his presidency for an anniversary commemoration. It wasn't always a presidential tradition.

Ronald Reagan was the first, delivering an evocative and emotional remembrance on the 40th anniversary in 1984. Joining him were surviving members of an Army Rangers team that had scaled cliffs at Pointe du Hoc to silence German guns protecting the Normandy beaches.

"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc," Reagan said. "These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war."

Before him, presidents acknowledged the D-Day invasion with words or statements, but none made a pilgrimage to the site, not even Dwight Eisenhower, who had been the supreme allied commander who ordered the invasion.

Here is a sampling of how presidents observed the key D-Day anniversaries.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER, 10th anniversary, 1954

Issued a statement that reflected the Cold War chasm of the day: "We see peoples, once bitter enemies, burying their antagonisms and joining together to meet the problems of the postwar world. If all those nations which were members of the Grand Alliance have not maintained in time of peace the spirit of that wartime union, if some of the peoples who were our comrades-in-arms have been kept apart from us, that is cause for profound regret, but not for despair."

Eisenhower did go to Normandy after his presidency, for the 20th anniversary observance.

LYNDON JOHNSON, 20th anniversary, 1964

Johnson, in Washington pushing for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, delivered remarks to members of a D-Day delegation, headed by Gen. Omar Bradley: "Your country remembers and will never forget, the resolve born on that D-Day, that, so long as we are able, and other men are willing to stand together, we shall not permit the light of freedom to be extinguished on any continent again. ... So let all the world know that when this nation has stood 2,000 years we shall not have forgotten the lands where our sons lie buried, nor the cause for which our sons died. Where we have commitments to the cause of freedom, we shall honor them — today, tomorrow and always."

RICHARD NIXON, 30th anniversary, 1974

Nixon, in the throes of the Watergate investigation and with impeachment hearings underway, sent Gen. Bradley once again to the ceremonies. Five years earlier, Nixon had issued a proclamation on the 25th anniversary calling the Normandy assault "a historical landmark in the history of freedom." He also met at the White House with former war correspondents who were on their way to France for the 25th anniversary observance.

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH anniversary, 1984

Reagan spoke at the top of the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, the Atlantic Ocean spread behind him and with 62 gray-haired surviving Rangers seated before him.

"They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

"Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there."

BILL CLINTON, 50th anniversary, 1994

Clinton attended the 50th anniversary, delivering his remarks at the U.S. Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. His comments offer an ironic reference point to the Europe that Obama faces as he arrives in Normandy on Friday.

"Fifty years later, what a different world we live in. Germany, Japan and Italy, liberated by our victory, now stand among our closest allies and the staunchest defenders of freedom. Russia, decimated during the war and frozen afterward in communism and cold war, has been reborn in democracy. And as freedom rings from Prague to Kiev, the liberation of this continent is nearly complete. Now the question falls to our generation: How will we build upon the sacrifice of D-Day's heroes? Like the soldiers of Omaha Beach, we cannot stand still. We cannot stay safe by doing so. Avoiding today's problems would be our own generation's appeasements. For just as freedom has a price, it also has a purpose, and its name is progress."

GEORGE W. BUSH, 60th anniversary, 2004

Bush went to Normandy in 2002 to observe Memorial Day. He returned for the 60th anniversary, speaking at the U.S. cemetery and accompanied by French President Jacques Chirac.

"All who are buried and named in this place are held in the loving memory of America. We pray in the peace of this cemetery that they have reached the far shore of God's mercy. And we still look with pride on the men of D-Day, on those who served and went on. It is a strange turn of history that called on young men from the prairie towns and city streets of America to cross an ocean and throw back the marching, mechanized evils of fascism."

BARACK OBAMA, 65th anniversary, 2009

Obama recalled that his grandfather, a 26-year-old supply sergeant stationed near the English Channel, crossed the channel six weeks after D-Day and followed allied forces across France.

"At an hour of maximum danger, amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found within themselves the ability to do something extraordinary. ... That is the story of Normandy — but also the story of America; of the Minutemen who gathered on a green in Lexington; of the Union boys from Maine who repelled a charge at Gettysburg; of the men who gave their last full measure of devotion at Inchon and Khe San; of all the young men and women whose valor and goodness still carry forward this legacy of service and sacrifice."

 

Comments

The Big Dog's back

Gee, how much did that cost us to send these Repub Presidents over there?

JACKEL

You know, if I were there and he came to speak I would turn my back. He is the biggest traitor to this country along with Benedict Arnold. I gave an oath to The constitution and 8 years of my youth living up to it. This smuck has violated it and broken many laws and should hang his head in shame. OH, by the way, how many years did you give ? Now he has put 5 Taliban leaders back on them job for one traitor.

coasterfan

Bush released more than 500 prisoners from Gitmo, and we received 0 American captives in return. One of the 500 is now a suspect in the Benghazi killings. Maybe it's just me, but I think 500 is a much bigger and worse number than 5.

bondgirlM

If you are going to tout a comment as a fact please don't misrepresent the truth. They were not " released" as in freed, they were transferred to prisons elsewhere. Reasons for these transfer vary, like US troops captured someone who had committed a crime in another country so after being processed through Gitmo they were released to that country for prosecution. Another reason was after they were prosecuted through our military court system they were sent to prisons ( federal military prisons ) here to serve out their terms. So you see they were not merely released as you put it they were transferred. You've been listen to Steny Hoyer too much.

jazzbo

"Indeed, government documents indicate more than 500 detainees were released or transferred from Guantanamo while George W. Bush was president. A White House executive order issued on the second day of Obama’s presidency said, “The federal government has moved more than 500 such detainees from Guantánamo, either by returning them to their home country or by releasing or transferring them to a third country.”
That’s backed up by a fact sheet from the military task force that runs the detention camp, which says 520 detainees had been released or transferred by March 2009."

" ...by returning them to their home country..."

Anybody ever do a : "Where Are They Now?" backup story ?

Odds are they were "freed" in their country and treated like heros.

deertracker

Exactly jazzbo an America is still here!

bondgirlM

I would bet your "odds" are just that "odd facts"

jazzbo

I'll bet you're wrong.

Darwin's choice

Another incredibly stupid lie by the king of knob polishers!

Keep buffing coasterfan!

Impeach obama!

bondgirlM

Coaster fan how would you know if one was involved in Benghazi. That was one of those things that Obama was going to "get to the bottom of" and "punish all that were involved". LOL like almost two years ago. YEAH right. Gonna get to the bottom of the IRS scandal to only announce later that there is "not a smidge of corruption in the IRS". Now we certainly can count on him getting to the bottom of the VA mess. I am not holding my breath. Liberals keep drinking that Kool Aid.

Bottom Line

Completely idiotic comment from a giant hypocrite. We all would expect nothing less. You are unreal.

freespeech1

Yeah and Moocheles vacations were free. You really display advanced stages of cranial rectosis

deertracker

Name one FLOTUS that paid or her vacations. What is your problem with her? She did not run for anything nor was she elected to anything. She wants the youth to eat healthy and be healthy. Terrible, terrible crime?

meowmix

But deertracker, Nancy Reagan was so much better because she came up with the slogan "Just Say No to Drugs"!!! And Barbara Bush founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy while First Lady!! And we all know that on the night of November 6, 1963, Laura Bush ran a stop sign and struck another car, resulting in the death of its driver!! But she too was into Literacy Programs (too bad she couldn't teach Dubya a word each day).

bondgirlM

Hey big dog, what does it matter? It was to honor those who have fought and kept people like you from speaking German...geez it's not like they are going to Hawaii for a birthday party, or shopping in Paris or just for the heck of it to Martha's Vineyard.

JACKEL

Here is another one of Bozo's Heroes.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront...

Truth or Dare

I'm glad to see this was a priority for President Obama.

To Grandpa Moke, a local WWII Vet who survived the shores of Normandy, thank you and all your Brothers for your service, your sacrifice and your willingness to share your personal history of WWII w/family. Many more happy birthdays to you as well! As I read this and think about what it might of been like for you to be a very young man having a birthday only days prior to storming the shores, the thought brings tears to my eyes and deep gratitude within my heart!