Biden to speak on freedom and democracy at Pointe du Hoc 80 years after D-Day

June 7, 2024
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President Biden is delivering a speech on freedom and democracy Friday at Pointe du Hoc, which during World War II was a heavily fortified German position captured by U.S. Army Rangers during the invasion of Normandy

In his remarks, the president will be drawing a connection between the Allied powers’ fight for freedom on D-Day decades ago and supporting sovereignty in Ukraine and elsewhere now. 

Warning against isolationism and emphasizing cost of not standing up to dictators has been a recurring theme this week for Mr. Biden. He’s in France to observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the massive seaborne invasion helped put the allies on the road to ending World War II. 

“He’ll talk about the stakes of that moment, an existential fight between a dictatorship and freedom,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who previewed the president’s speech for reporters. “He’ll talk about the men who scaled those cliffs and how they put the country ahead of themselves. And he’ll talk about the dangers of isolationism and how if we bow to dictators and fail to stand up to them, they keep going, and ultimately, America and the world pay a greater price.”

During the U.S. assault on the Omaha and Utah beaches on D-Day, U.S. Army Rangers scaled 100-foot cliffs and seized German artillery that could have targeted American troops as they landed. The operation’s success came at a high cost — out of the 225 Rangers deployed on the mission, fewer than 75 were still in fighting condition by its end — but the assault resulted in a successful defense against Germany’s counterattacks. The World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument was built to honor those men. 

France D-Day Anniversary
File: The “Pointe du Hoc” is pictured Tuesday, April 8, 2014 near Caen, Normandy, France. It was the highest point during WWII between Utah Beach and and Omaha Beach. 

David Vincent / AP


Ukraine is a key focus for Mr. Biden, both in his speech and as he meets with world leaders in France. 

“The price of unchecked tyranny is the blood of the young and the brave,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at Normandy Thursday. “In their generation, in their hour of trial, the Allied forces of D-Day did their duty. Now the question for us is, in our hour of trial, will we do ours?”

Mr. Biden met Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was at Omaha Beach Thursday for an international event commemorating D-Day.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shaking hands with U.S. President Joe Biden
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden take part in the official international ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings at the Omaha Beach Memorial in Normandy, France on June 6, 2024.

Ukrainian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images


“The unity that defines history,” Zelenskyy tweeted Thursday. “Today in France, alongside our allies, we honored the bravery of the Allied forces who landed in Normandy 80 years ago. We remember. We thank them. We uphold the values of the defenders of life.”

As they met Friday, Mr. Biden issued his first public apology to the Ukrainian people for the months of uncertainty over whether $61 billion in additional U.S. assistance for Ukraine’s war effort would actually come. That aid was held up by conservative Republican members of the U.S. Congress attaching domestic border issues to the foreign assistance package, which finally passed at the end of April and was quickly signed by Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden assured Zelenskyy on Friday that the American people were committed to standing with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression for the long haul, telling him: “We’re still in. Completely. Thoroughly.” 

“It’s very important that in this unity, United States of America, all American people stay with Ukraine like it was during World War II,” Zelenskyy told the U.S. leader. “How the United States helped to save human lives, to save Europe. And we count on your continuing support in standing with us, shoulder to shoulder.”

Mr. Biden was expected to discuss the future of support for Ukraine with French President Emmanuel Macron later during his state visit to France. 

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