OMAHA BEACH, France (AP) – With the silence of remembrance and respect, nations honored the memory of the fallen and the singular bravery of all Allied troops who sloshed through bloodied water to the landing beaches of Normandy, a tribute of thanks 75 years after the massive D-Day assault that doomed the Nazi occupation of France and portended the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich.
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump praised the soldiers and airmen, the survivors and those who lost their lives, in powerful speeches Thursday that credited the June 6, 1944 surprise air and sea operation that brought tens of thousands of men to Normandy, each not knowing whether he would survive the day.
“You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our heart,” Trump said, of the “warriors” of an “epic battle” engaged in the ultimate fight of good against evil.
In his speech, Macron praised the “unthinkable courage,” ”the generosity” of the soldiers and “the strength of spirit” that made them press on “to help men and women they didn’t know, to liberate a land most hadn’t seen before, for no other cause but freedom, democracy.”
He expressed France’s debt to the United States for freeing his country from the reign of the Nazis. Macron awarded five American veterans with the Chevalier of Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.
“We know what we owe to you vets, our freedom,” he said, switching from French to English. “On behalf of my nation I just want to say ‘thank you.'”
Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy on D-Day. Of those 73,000 were from the United States, 83,000 from Britain and Canada.