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Americas

Macron, Trump hail D-Day heroes in Normandy

media Macron delivers address at Normandy ceremony REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The French and US presidents have paid tribute to D-Day veterans, with different emphasis, in key speeches in Normandy on the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings.

Before world dignitaries, 160 WW2 veterans and their families, and relatives of those who have since died, Macron saluted the "unbelievable courage and generosity" of the soldiers.

In a lyrical speech, at Colleville-sur-Mer, near Omaha Beach, Macron evoked the hardships the US soldiers had endured and the dangers they had faced.

"We know what we owe to you veterans, our freedom. On behalf of my nation I just want to say thank you," he said in English, directly addressing the veterans.

Macron saluted the international engagement of the United States after the war and suggested that countries sharing the values of democracy and liberty need to rekindle their partnership.

"I'm ready to revive this friendship," said Macron. "We will do it."

In his address, Trump said the bond between the allies was unbreakable.

He devoted much of his speech to the individual stories of bravery and selflessness of the US soldiers, hailing them as extraordinary American sons and daughters.

He said that the strength of the D-Day soldiers came from God and went on to list what he saw as some of America's achievements, adding that today "America is stronger than ever before".

Macron and Trump then laid wreaths before the memorial to the D-Day soldiers.

Special D-Day

Colleville-sur-Mer attracts flocks of international visitors every 6 June, but the 75th anniversary is of particular significance. 

Chris Gamble, a 51-year-old Gulf War veteran, attended the ceremony with students from his Grade 11 high school class in Montgomery Country, Maryland, US.

“This could be the last D-Day with visible survivors," Gamble told RFI. "That’s why I came to this one, I told the students this might be the last time you ever see anyone who was here, where you can talk with them and shake their hands and show your appreciation.

"I think coming generations will understand how important this was, but as the World War II generation fades out, it’s important to hold on to what’s still here while you can.”

Aiyana Jollie-Trottier, a recent high school graduate from Belcourt, North Dakota, says it will be even more important to remember those who served in WWII once the last veterans have passed away. 

“We came to pay our respects and honour everybody who fought in this war, gave their lives and really served our country, as well as helping people here in France. It will be sad when there’s no living veterans left, but hopefully they can carry this commemoration on strongly.”

 

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