Theodore's World: President Reagan's Speech on 40th Anniversary of D-Day

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June 06, 2008

President Reagan's Speech on 40th Anniversary of D-Day

June 6th,1984
Pointe du Hoc, France

"All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet'' and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you."
"Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose--to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.''

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all."

Wild Thing's comment........

I love Reagan's speech and since he is my favorite President I thought it would great to share his speech from the past here today.

Posted by Wild Thing at June 6, 2008 02:45 AM


Ronnie had it right! He always had the right words to say, the right gesture to make. The boys who ran, flew or rode into a seemingly unwinnable battle and did the impossible by winning the day. It had a cost, but they were willing to pay that cost.
Ronnie's kindness and compassion is what made him honorable and a great man. We should all be striving to be more like him--caring for our fellow man no matter what the cost to ourselves.
God Bless all the troops who have fought in our past and who are fighting today to give freedom to not only America, but the world.

Posted by: Lynn at June 6, 2008 08:36 AM

I can listen to any Ronald Reagan speech. His speeches were never hollow. He believed and meant what he said. He could get his message across and everyone understood him. Reagan backed up his speeches with actions. Since then there has been only a void of compromise, lies and clumsiness in the Oval Office.

I hope in my lifetime there is another President like Reagan. I doubt it, but I can hope. Maybe a John Bolton type.

Posted by: TomR at June 6, 2008 11:09 AM

Lynn beautifully said.

He gave the best speech I have ever heard about this.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 6, 2008 06:09 PM

Tom, I agree, he always had my total attention when he spoke. No big lawyer words, and spoke from his heart.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 6, 2008 06:16 PM

I've never seen a picture of Point du Hoc, only from the movie D-Day. In the movie the cliffs look formidible and quite a challange. For real they look impossible. They go straight up with no breaks in the structure. I am awe struck to think that anyone could climb them under good conditions, weather and wind also a factor. But under the conditions of June 6th, 1944 anything but favorable, they did just that. I can now understand why President Reagan was also awed by this magnificent feat. God Bless, our Army Rangers.


Posted by: Mark at June 6, 2008 06:57 PM

Mark, your absolutely right the cliffs are straight up. It gives me goosebumps to even think about it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 6, 2008 11:15 PM