Obama honors D-Day and World War II veterans
President Barack Obama spoke in honor of the thousands of Allied Forces that died or went missing on D-Day in 1944, when thousands of troops stormed the beaches of Normandy as the Allies began to retake Europe from German forces.
“Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are; we don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is; we come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril,” Obama said on Friday morning.
Diplomats, world leaders, veterans and American politicians joined the president in Normandy to honor the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings – best known as D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed at Normandy with more than 150,000 troops – 73,000 of them Americans. Casualties for that single day topped 10,000, including 6,603 Americans. In the weeks following D-Day, the Allies pressed the Germans back, turning the tide of the war: On August 15, Allied forces broke out of Normandy, liberating Paris ten days later and forcing German forces to retreat across the Seine river. The next spring, Germany would surrender.
The number of Americans laid to rest at the Normandy American Cemetery is staggering: 9,387, according to the White House, most of them men who died as part of the invasion, code-named Operation Neptune. The names of 1,557 soldiers are inscribed in the Garden of the Missing. The men buried and commemorated at the cemetery came from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Another 14,000 originally buried there were returned home at the request of their families. One father and son are buried side by side; 33 different sets of brothers are laid to rest side-by side.
“Just look at those numbers. More Americans died on that day than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. It’s just staggering,” NBC News Chuck Todd said on Friday’s Morning Joe. (Roughly 5,500 American troops died in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade.)