Biden marks 80th D-Day anniversary in Normandy


(NEW YORK) — President Joe Biden marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day by honoring the bravery of the American World War II veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, alongside U.S. allies, as he tied Allied efforts against Nazi Germany to their front against Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We know the dark forces that these heroes fought against 80 years ago. They never fade,” Biden said during remarks Thursday at the Normandy American Cemetery. “Aggression and greed, the desire to dominate and control, to change borders by force — these are perennial. The struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending.”

The president called Russia’s Vladimir Putin a “tyrant bent on domination,” and hailed the courage of Ukrainian troops for “never backing down.”

“Make no mistake, the autocrats of the world are watching closely to see what happens in Ukraine, to see if we let this illegal aggression go unchecked. We cannot let that happen,” Biden said. “To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable. Were we to do that, it means we’d be forgetting what happened here in these hallowed beaches. Make no mistake, we will not bow down. We will not forget.”

Without calling out political rival Donald Trump by name, Biden warned of the risk of isolationism, a veiled nod to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy doctrine.

“Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today,” Biden said. “Real alliances make us stronger, a lesson that I pray we Americans never forget,” the president added, referring to the post-WWII North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he called “the greatest military alliance in the world.”

Women veterans return to Normandy for 80th D-Day anniversary
At the end of the ceremony, Biden grew emotional at times during the ceremony, including as fighter jets cut through the sky above in a “missing man” formation, grimacing and touching his heart before pumping his fist.

The events in Normandy on Thursday were somber, taking place among more than 9,000 tombstones of American veterans. The president met with more than two dozen veterans before his remarks, handing them specially designed challenge coins depicting troops approaching Normandy’s beaches with a B-17 aircraft flying overhead, according to the White House.

The president and first lady Jill Biden greeted the veterans one by one, snapping photos with them and thanking them for their service.

“It’s my honor, it’s my honor,” Biden told one of them.

This D-Day milestone carries considerable significance as many of the WWII veterans — who average about 100 years old — may not be in attendance in five years. (Biden led a singing of “Happy Birthday” for one veteran who said their birthday is Saturday.)

At the ceremony, French President Emmanuel Macron presented 11 U.S. veterans with France’s Legion of Honor.

“Here, you came to join your forces with our own soldiers and to make France a free nation. And you are back here today at home, if I may say,” Macron told the veterans.

Video: Macron gives Legion of Honor award to 11 US WWII vets
In the afternoon, the Bidens laid a wreath by the gravesite of Pfc. John S. Greenfield, whom the White House said lived in the president’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

“We’re not far off from the time, the last living voices, those who fought and bled on D-Day will no longer be with us. So, we have a special obligation,” Biden said in his earlier remarks. “We cannot let what happened here be lost in the silence of the years to come. We must remember it. Must honor it and live it. We must remember the fact that they were heroes here that day does not absolve us from what we have to do today.”

“Democracy is never guaranteed,” the president added.

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