Included among the thousands of Americans and Europeans who observed the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the site of its heaviest action was an American Legion Family delegation led by National Commander Brett P. Reistad. It was a duty Reistad gladly assumed.
“The American Military Cemetery at Normandy is where so many young heroes of that fateful battle rest-in-peace,” Reistad said. “Some also served in World War I, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Jr., one of our most prominent founders. This year’s observance will be the last large gathering for many of the surviving D-Day veterans. It was appropriate and moving that President Trump, French President Emanuel Macron and their wives attended this event and paid tribute to these heroes. I can think of no better place for The American Legion to be.”
Trump’s remarks were well-received by the crowd which included many U.S. military servicemembers stationed in Europe. He recalled the sacrifices that a previous generation had made three quarters of a century ago.
“These men ran through the fires of hell moved by a force no weapon could destroy: the fierce patriotism of a free, proud and sovereign people,” Trump said. “They battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy and self-rule.”
Macron made it clear that France has not forgotten the lives lost in the battle to liberate the nation. “On behalf of France, I bow down before their bravery, I bow down before their immense sacrifice of those killed and those missing, who died as heroes in Normandy between June and August 1944 and for many were to rest there for eternity,” Macron said.
Trump’s address, which was interrupted by applause several times as video monitors panned to World War II veterans in attendance, was as much a tribute to the fallen as to those who survived.
“Seven decades ago, the warriors of D-Day fought a sinister enemy who spoke of a thousand-year empire,” he said. “In defeating that evil, they left a legacy that will not only last for a thousand years, but for all time – for as long as the soul knows of duty and honor; for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart.
To the men who sit behind me, and to the boys who rest in the field before me, you example will never, ever grow old. Your legend will never tire. Your spirit-brave, unyielding and true – will never die.”