Biden Commemorates D-Day Anniversary, Vows Continued Support for Ukraine and Democratic Values

Featured & Cover Biden Commemorates D Day Anniversary Vows Continued Support for Ukraine and Democratic Values

President Joe Biden commemorated the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday, using the occasion to warn against isolationism and affirm the U.S. commitment to Ukraine. Speaking in Normandy, Biden emphasized the strength alliances provide, calling the D-Day beaches “a powerful illustration of how alliances make us stronger,” and prayed Americans never forget this lesson.

Biden addressed a crowd of aging World War II veterans, many over 100 years old and in wheelchairs. He acknowledged that soon “the last living voices of those who fought and bled on D-Day will no longer be with us,” urging the nation to remember the significance of the postwar democratic order. “We cannot let what happened here be lost in the silence of the years to come,” Biden stated. “The fact that they were heroes here that day does not absolve us of what we have to do today.”

His speech combined solemn reflections with urgent calls for action. Flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and dozens of American veterans, Biden praised the bravery of World War II’s last living fighters and linked their efforts to the current conflict in Ukraine. Highlighting the recent NATO expansion and the Ukrainian fight against Russian invasion, he promised never to yield to autocrats like Russian President Vladimir Putin. The coalition supporting Ukraine “will not walk away,” Biden declared, warning that “all of Europe will be threatened” if Ukraine falls. “The autocrats of the world are watching closely … to surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable.”

This speech marked the beginning of a multi-day trip, during which Biden will honor one of the most significant military battles in U.S. history and reiterate the importance of democratic values. Biden arrived at the Normandy American Cemetery early, met with 41 D-Day veterans—most of whom are over 100 years old—and recorded an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir. Alongside First Lady Jill Biden, the president greeted each veteran personally in a gazebo overlooking Omaha Beach, saluting and shaking hands with all before posing for pictures.

To one 102-year-old veteran, Biden remarked, “The greatest generation ever, man. You saved the world.” He bent down to look another veteran in the eyes and repeated, “You saved the world.”

As the ceremony began, approximately 170 American WWII veterans were brought in on wheelchairs, highlighting both the time elapsed since D-Day and the likelihood that this would be the last major commemoration with a significant number of living veterans present. Macron, who spoke before Biden, emphasized the “eternal bond” between the U.S. and France, describing it as a “blood tie, shed for liberty.” He honored the soldiers who landed on Normandy’s beaches, noting their sacrifices and recounting several veterans’ histories of service. “The free world needed each of you and you said yes when we asked for help,” Macron said, switching to English for this part of his speech. “And you are back here today at home.”

Later that afternoon, Biden planned to attend a larger D-Day commemoration at Omaha Beach alongside world leaders such as Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is likely to become NATO’s next secretary general. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also expected to attend. Biden and Zelenskyy were anticipated to have a brief discussion on recent developments in Russia’s invasion and potential additional security measures.

On Friday, Biden will return to Normandy to deliver a more extensive speech at Pointe du Hoc, a significant 100-foot cliff scaled by Army Rangers during the D-Day invasion. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained that these back-to-back speeches aim to “draw a through line” from World War II, through the Cold War, to the present day. “The Pointe du Hoc speech is a speech about, in his view, timeless principles — principles that have served as the foundation of American security and American democracy for generations — including the generation that scaled those cliffs, including today’s generation, including the next generation,” Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One.

In his address, Biden underscored the connection between the sacrifices of the past and the current global struggle for democracy, using the memory of D-Day to highlight the importance of unity and continued vigilance against authoritarianism.

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