President Clinton's Speech at Pointe du Hoc , June 6, 1994
The 50th anniversary of D-Day



Office of the Press Secretary (Colleville-sur-Mer, France)

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT POINTE DU HOC Normandy, France --------- 8:45 A.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: General Downing, Mr. Hathaway, honored leaders of our military, distinguished veterans and members of the Armed Services, family and friends, my fellow Americans:

june6-pdh-bay-view We stand on sacred soil. Fifty years ago at this place a miracle of liberation began. On that morning, democracy's forces landed to end the enslavement of Europe. Around 7:00 a.m., Lt. Colonel James Earl Rudder, 2nd Ranger Battalion, United States Army, led 224 men onto the beaches below and up these unforgiving cliffs. Bullets and grenades came down upon them, but by a few minutes after 7:00 a.m., here, exactly here, the first Ranger stood.
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june6-Clinton-applause Today, let us ask those American heroes to stand again. Corporal Ken Bargmann, who sits here to my right, was one of them. He had just celebrated his 20th birthday out in the Channel. A young man like all the rest of them, cold and wet, far from home, preparing for the challenge of his life. Ken Bargmann and the other Rangers of Pointe du Hoc and all the other Americans, British, Canadian and free French who landed, were the tip of a spear the free world had spent sharpening; a spear they began on this morning in 1944 to plunge into the heart of the Nazi empire.
june6-rangers-wreath-knife Most of them were new to war, but all were armed with the ingenuity of free citizens and the confidence that they fought for a good cause under the gaze of a loving God. The fortunate ones would go home, changed forever. Thousands would never return. And today we mourn their loss. But on that gray dawn, millions -- literally millions -- of people on this continent awaited their arrival. Young Anne Frank wrote in her diary these words: "It's no exaggeration to say that all Amsterdam, all Holland, yes, the whole west coast of Europe talks about the invasion day and night; debates about it, makes bets about it and hopes. I have the feeling friends are approaching." The young men who came, fought for the very survival of democracy. Just four years earlier, some thought democracy's day had passed. Hitler was rolling across Europe. In America, factories worked at only half capacity. Our people were badly divided over what to do. The future seemed to belong to the dictators. They sneered at democracy -- its mingling of races and religions; its tolerance of dissent. They were sure we didn't have what it took.
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©Copyright 1994-1998 Vivian E. Corbin. All photographs contained herein are the work and intellectual property of the author and may not be used without the author's express written permission.