tv President Reagan at D- Day 40th Anniversary CSPAN June 9, 2019 10:08pm-10:23pm EDT
to make sure that this threat is never before us again. we are proud of what we have done together. we are sure that our friendship will be everlasting. it is, indeed, a great honor for me as president of the united states to come here to pay homage to the brave men and women of the past who have ensured our precious freedom today. the 75th: this year is anniversary of d-day, the allied invasion of nazi occupied france. next from our c-span video
archive, president ronald reagan speaks at the normandy cliffs overlooking omaha beach on the 40th anniversary. president reagan: we are here to mark that day in history on the allied armies reclaim to this continent to liberty. for four long years, much of europe and been a terrible shadow. free nations had fallen, millions cried out for liberation. europe was enslaved in the world -- and the world pray for its rescue. here in normandy the rescue began. here the allies stood and fought against tyranny and a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. we stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of france. the air is soft, but 40 years
ago, the air was dense with smoke, the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. at dawn on the morning of june 6, 1944, 225 rangers jumped off a british landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. their mission was one of the most difficult and the daring of the invasion, to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. the allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, trained on the beaches to stop the allied advance. the rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers shooting down upon them with machine guns and throwing grenades, and the american rangers began to climb. they shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. when one ranger fell, another would take his place. when one rope was cut, another would begin his climb again. they climbed, shot back, and
held their footing. soon, one by one, the rangers pulled themselves over the top. and in seizing that firm land, they began to take back the continent of europe. 225 came here. after two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms. behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. and before me are the men who put them there. these are the boys of puent ajo. [applause] president reagan: these are the men who took the cliffs. these are the champions who helped free a constant. these are the heroes who helped end a war. i look at you and i think of the words of stephen spender's poem.
you are men who in your "lives" fought for life and lived breath of vivid air signed in your honor. i think i know what you may be thinking right now, thinking we were just part of a bigger effort. everyone was brave that day. well, everyone was. do you remember the story of the bill millen of the 51st highlanders? 40 years ago today, british troops were pinned down near a bridge, suddenly they heard the sound of bagpipes. some thought they were dreaming. they weren't. they looked up and saw bill millen with his bagpipes leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of bullets in the ground around him. lord lovett was with him. he calmly announced when he got "sorry, i was a few minutes late." as if he had just been delayed
by a traffic jam, when he had come from the bloody fighting on sword beach, which he and his men had just taken. there was the impossible courage of the poles, and the unsurpassed courage of the canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. they knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. once they hit juno beach, they never looked back. 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 scott fusiliers, the screaming eagles, england's armored divisions, the forces of free france, the coast guard's matchbox fleet, and you, the american rangers. 40 summers have passed since the battle 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, loyalty and love. the men of normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they thought -- fought for all humanity, faith that a just god would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. it was deep knowledge and pray god, we have not -- 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 and not to conquer, and so you and others did not doubt your cause. you were right not to doubt. you all knew that some things were worth dying for. one's country is worth dying for and democracy is worth dying for because is 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. the americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading to the darkness back home. they felt in their hearts they could not know, but in fact, in georgia, they were filling the churches at 4:00 a.m. in kansas, they were kneeling on their porches and praying. and in philadelphia, they were
ringing the liberty bell. something else helped the men of d-day. the rockhard belief that providence would have a hand, that god was an ally in this great cause. and so the night before this invasion, when colonel warburton asked his parachute troops kneel with him in prayer, he told them do not bow your heads, but look up, so you can see god and ask his blessing in what we are about to do. also that night, general matthew ridgway, listening on his cot for the promise god made to joshua. i will not fail thee nor forsake thee. these are the things that impelled them. these are the things that shaped the unity of the allies. when the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and
governments to be returned to the people. there were nations to be reborn. above all, there is a new peace to be assured. these were huge and daunting tasks, but the allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty and love of those who fell here. they rebuilt a new europe together. there was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. the united states did its part, creating the marshall plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. it led to the atlantic alliance, a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, prosperity and peace. in spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the world was happier planned. some liberated countries were lost.
the great sadness echoes down to our own time in the streets of warsaw, prague, and east berlin. soviet troops who came to the center of this continent did not leave when the piece came. -- when peace came. they are still there, uninvited, on wanted, unyielding almost 40 years after. because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose, to protect and defend democracy. the only territories we hold our -- 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 then to take a blind shelter across the sea. rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. we learned that isolationism
never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with 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 is fitting to remember the great losses also suffered by the russian people during world war ii. 20 million perished. a terrible price the testifies to the world the necessity of ending war. i tell you from my heart, 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 beach head. we look for some sign from the soviet union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire for peace and they will give of the ways of conquest. there must be a changing that will allow us to turn our hope into action. we will pray forever that someday 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 our alliance that protects it. we are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago. the same loyalties, traditions and beliefs. we are 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.
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 that by our actions that we understand what they died for. let our actions say to them the words for with matthew ridgway listened. i will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value 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. [applause] >> this year is the 75th anniversary of d-day, the june