Trump Praises D-Day Veterans: ‘You Are Among the Very Greatest Americans Who Will Ever Live’

June 6, 2019 Updated: June 6, 2019

President Donald Trump praised the veterans who were in Europe on D-Day, telling them, “You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live.”

Trump was at the Normandy American Cemetery in France on June 6 for a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings—the largest joint naval, air, and land assault ever undertaken—which helped free Europe from Nazi rule.

The ceremony kicked off with a video presentation featuring several D-Day veterans recounting their experiences on June 6, 1944.

The crowd gave a standing ovation afterward, as videographers panned the stage to show the dozens of veterans who made the trek to be there. Many arrived in wheelchairs, with decorated medals and caps denoting their veteran status.

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron
President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron greet U.S. Battle of Normandy veterans and family members as the two men arrive at the main ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the World War II Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy, at Normandy American Cemetery near Colleville-Sur-Mer, France on June 6, 2019. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As Trump, joined by First Lady Melania Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France, made his way down a red carpet to the event, he greeted a number of veterans. One of the U.S. veterans told Trump he has a lot of supporters in Pennsylvania.

“There’s a lot of people back in Pennsylvania who want to vote for you,” the man said.

Others shouted, “We love you” and “God bless you, President Trump.”

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the American Normandy cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, on June 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Retired Maj. Gen. William Matz Jr., secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, spoke at the event, recognizing the 160 World War II veterans on stage, saying they “need no reminder of the horrors of war and who remember well their comrades who never came home.”

“Seventy-five years ago this very morning, and yards, simply yards, from where you are sitting, a generation of American men, joined by their brothers-in-arms, did the unthinkable,” Matz said.

Macron took the stage next, thanking American soldiers for their sacrifice.

“Their days of youth seem too far behind. Far from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or New Jersey … far from their school years, when they were learning a trade,” Macron said.

“They freed a land with no other compass than a cause which was greater than themselves—the cause of liberty today. France has not forgotten. France has not forgotten those fighters to whom we owe the right to live in freedom. France has not forgotten the 2 million soldiers who went for weeks to free the villages of Normandy and would go through the hell of combat of the countryside. … I bow down before their bravery.”

U.S. and French flags are seen in the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, on June 6, 2019. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

Trump spoke next, thanking Macron and recognizing the 60 American veterans on the stage.

“You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of the republic, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Trump said, as the crowd stood to applaud.

Normandy American Cemetery Holds D-Day 75th Anniversary Ceremony
President Donald Trump speaks as French President Emmanuel Macron (C-L) and American Battle of Normandy veterans and family members look on at the main ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the World War II Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy at Normandy American Cemetery near Colleville-Sur-Mer, France, on June 6, 2019. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

American soldiers “came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities and the forges of mighty industrial towns. Before the war, many had never ventured beyond their own community. Now, they had come to offer their lives halfway across the world,” he said, after recognizing Polish, Norwegian, Australian, and French fighters.

The president described the service members who fought as the “citizens of free and independent nations, united by their duty to their compatriots and to millions yet unborn.”

President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and French First Lady Brigitte Macron, watch a flyover during a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the American Normandy cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, on June 6, 2019. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

In his remarks, Trump also named some of the U.S. soldiers individually, at one point telling the story of Army medic Ray Lambert, who was 23 years old when he served on D-Day along with his brother, Bill. Despite his young age, Ray had already earned three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars fighting in North Africa and Sicily, serving side-by-side with his brother.

“In the early morning hours, the two brothers stood together on the deck of the USS Henrico, before boarding two separate Higgins landing craft. ‘If I don’t make it,’ Bill said, ‘please, please take care of my family.’ Ray asked his brother to do the same,” Trump told the crowd.

The president described how, of the 31 men on Ray Lambert’s landing craft, only he and six others made it to the beach, adding that there were “only a few of them left.”

“Again and again, Ray ran back into the water,” Trump said. “He dragged out one man after another. He was shot through the arm. His leg was ripped open by shrapnel. His back was broken. He nearly drowned.”

“At 98 years old, Ray is here with us today, with his fourth Purple Heart and his third Silver Star from Omaha,” the president told the crowd, who applauded in response. “Ray, the free world salutes you. Thank you, Ray.”

Macron, Trump, and their wives departed the ceremony around 12:45 p.m. local time, viewing a map of the D-Day invasion before watching a series of flyovers.

Among those traveling with Trump on June 6 were White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson. A number of U.S. lawmakers were also in the crowd, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wy.).

Trump’s schedule on June 6 included a meeting with Macron. He and the first lady were due to fly back to his golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland, by the end of the day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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