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Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, Omaha Beach

“They came not as Conquerors, but as Liberators”

by Scott L. Vanatter

After speaking at Pointe du Hoc earlier in the day (June 6, 1984), President Reagan also spoke at Omaha Beach, France.

He began by harking to Lincoln’s challenge that “we can only honor” those who stormed the beaches and cliffs “by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they gave a last full measure of devotion.”

Again that day he reminded a world facing another kind of aggression, a still existent Soviet Union, that the Allies “came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongly seized.”

He described the goals of free people forty years ago came to Europe, “not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to be free again.” Just five years later, an eager world would also begin to nurture the seeds of democracy in the nations freed by the fall of the Soviet Union.

Free people gathered at Normandy that day to “celebrate the triumph of democracy.”

He concluded by stating that the world had learned a valuable lesson in the crucible of defeating world aggression. “From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure.”

Reagan himself can be remembered as one who spoke for and acted to secure freedom to a weary, enslaved world. Here is how he said we can keep it. “We will always remember.” As we do he said that his will help us “always be prepared, so we may always be free.

Click here to see the full transcript of this important speech.

Please see below for key excerpts.

REDEDICATE OURSELVES TO THAT CAUSE

No speech can adequately portray their suffering, their sacrifice, their heroism. President Lincoln once reminded us that through their deeds, the dead of battle have spoken more eloquently for themselves than any of the living ever could. But we can only honor them by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they gave a last full measure of devotion.

Today we do rededicate ourselves to that cause. And at this place of honor, we’re humbled by the realization of how much so many gave to the cause of freedom and to their fellow man. . .

FEAR, BEING ON THE BOAT WAITING TO LAND

“He made me feel the fear of being on that boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the seasickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers’ faces — the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death.”

NOT AS CONQUERORS, BUT AS LIBERATORS

When men like Private Zanatta and all our allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongly seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to be free again. . . .

THE TRIUMPH OF DEMOCRACY

Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. . . .

From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. . . .

We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.