“If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world.” President Barack Obama opened with these solemn words today at Normandy American Cemetery on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Reflecting a common thread of humanity that Allied forces experienced on the eve of June 6, 1944, President Obama continued on by explaining how these men of the greatest generation forever changed the course of world history. “But it was here, on these shores, that the tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom.”
More than 200 American World War II veterans traveled to France to participate in this ceremony set within the hallowed grounds of Normandy American Cemetery, where 9,387 of their brothers in arms rest eternally, and 1,557 of their brothers in arms are commemorated on the Walls of the Missing. During his remarks, President Obama emphasized the need to gather together and honor these individuals to ensure their sacrifices and their relentless fight for freedom is never forgotten.
"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. We tell this story for the old soldiers who pull themselves a little straighter today to salute brothers who never made it home. We tell the story for the daughter who clutches a faded photo of her father, forever young; for the child who runs his fingers over colorful ribbons he knows signify something of great consequence, even if he doesn’t yet fully understand why. We tell this story to bear what witness we can to what happened when the boys from America reached Omaha Beach."
President Obama and President of France François Hollande both delivered remarks and laid a wreath during this historic ceremony to a crowd of more than 12,000. ABMC Secretary Max Cleland, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel all attended the ceremony along with hundreds of active duty military.
The Allied landings along the Normandy coast 70 years ago served as an unprecedented amphibious assault that lead to the liberation of France, and ultimately the continent of Europe.