Biden invokes Ukraine’s fight against ‘tyrant’ in marking D-Day

Joe Biden D Day 06.06

President Biden on Thursday marked the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a tribute to the bravery of those who landed in Normandy while invoking Ukraine’s fight against “a tyrant,” appealing to Americans to remember the value of international alliances at a precarious moment in world affairs.

Biden, speaking adjacent to the U.S. cemetery in Normandy in front of dozens of surviving World War II veterans, sought to connect the allied victory of 80 years ago directly to the modern importance of America’s role as an international leader.

“What the allies did together 80 years ago far surpassed anything we could have done on our own,” Biden said. “It was a powerful illustration of how alliances, real alliances, make us stronger. A lesson that I pray we Americans never forget.”

“Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today,” Biden said, taking a subtle stab at former President Trump’s America First agenda that the president is staunchly against.

He cited the critical role of NATO and invoked Ukraine’s fight against “a tyrant bent on domination.” Biden reaffirmed that the U.S. and allies “will not walk away” from Ukraine amid its war with Russia, warning that if they do, Ukraine’s neighbors and others in Europe will be threatened.

“The struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending,” he said. “To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators is simply unthinkable. Were we to do that, it means we would be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

“Now we have to ask ourselves, will we stand against tyranny, against evil, against crushing brutality, the iron fist? We stand for freedom and we defend democracy. We stand together. My answer is yes and only can be yes,” Biden added.

He called NATO the “greatest military alliance in history,” to applause from the crowd. He said that NATO is “more united than ever.”

The D-Day landings, which are the largest amphibious invasion in history, helped turn the tide of World War II. 

Many of the World War II veterans are over 100-years old, and about 150 Americans who took part in the Battle of Normandy, including 24 D-Day veterans, were expected to travel to France for the ceremonies.

Biden called it “the highest honor to be able to salute you here in Normandy,” and turned to say, “God love you” to veterans seated behind him.

“From the sea and sky, nearly 160,000 allied troops descended on Normandy. Many, to state the obvious, never came home. Many survived that longest day, kept on fighting for months until victory was finally won. And a few notable band of brothers are here with us today.”

He called out some of the veterans, including one who provided gun fire support to rangers who were scaling the Point du Hoc cliffs and another who provided protection to the infantry against the German air force. Additionally, he called out Ben Miller, who was in the crowd and was a medic who survived a plane crash when the wings of the plane were ripped off.

“Theirs has always been the stories of America. Just walk the rows of the cemetery as I had,” Biden said. 

Biden entered the ceremony with French President Emmanuel Macron, first lady Jill Biden, and France’s first lady Brigitte Macron, all walking on a blue carpet past American and French flags and groups of servicemembers. U.S. World War II planes flew overhead and both national anthems then played.

The president walked past veterans to take his position. Macron then gave his remarks and then presented several veterans with a medal. 

Macron spent a moment with each veteran while Biden shook their hands and spoke with them for a few seconds. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave remarks, honoring the veterans and saying they “laid the foundation for a more just, free, and decent world” and “built peace out of war.”

Ahead of the ceremony, Biden met with 41 veterans, 31 of which were at D-Day, ahead of his speech, telling them they’re the “greatest generation” and “saved the world.”

The president will also deliver remarks at Pointe du Hoc on Friday focused on preserving democracy. He will cap off his visit on Sunday with a stop at the same cemetery where Trump was unable to visit due to weather in 2018 and reportedly referred to those buried there as “losers” and “suckers,” comments Biden has repeatedly cited to attack his predecessor.

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