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Trump to D-Day veterans: 'You are the pride of our nation'

President Trump on Thursday joined French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, offering praise for those who stormed the beaches, dozens of whom were in attendance.


"To more than 170 veterans of the second World War who join us today, you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live," Trump said.

"You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic," he added. "And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

“We know what we owe to you veterans: our freedom," Macron said. "On behalf of my nation I just want to say thank you."

The two leaders delivered remarks at a ceremony in Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy. Seated behind them were more than 150 World War II veterans, roughly 60 of whom were part of the forces on D-Day.

As the two leaders arrived, they shook the hands of many of the veterans on hand. Macron later awarded five of the servicemen with the French Legion of Honor, the country's highest distinction.

Trump, meanwhile, singled out Russell Pickett, 94, and Ray Lambert, 98, as two of the heroes of the invasion. Both men were in attendance on Thursday.

Macron offered thanks to American forces for helping to liberate France during World War II, while Trump voiced appreciation to French families who tend to the graves of U.S. troops in Normandy.

"Those who fought here won a future for our nation," Trump said. "They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish and defend our way of life for many centuries to come."

The service of the veterans and the importance of the U.S.-French alliance were front and center during Thursday's event. Trump and Macron were the only two world leaders to speak at the formal ceremony and entered and exited the commemoration together.

Trump has at times thrown longstanding global partnerships into question, asserting that America should not serve as the world's "piggy bank" or police force. He has accused NATO allies of failing to contribute enough toward defense, and criticized traditional U.S. partners like Germany while seeking to forge relationships with longtime adversaries like Russia and North Korea.

But Trump on Thursday recognized the gravity of what Allied forces had pulled off 75 years ago in storming the beaches of France. He acknowledged the contributions of Canadian, British, Australian, Polish, Norwegian and French soldiers, and signaled their collaboration would not be forgotten.

"To all of our friends and partners: Our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace," Trump said. "Our bond is unbreakable."

Trump dedicated much of his speech to recounting the efforts and legacy of American soldiers. He spoke highly of their courage, their strength and their efforts to assist Europe during the war, as well as their contributions to the U.S. upon returning home.

"They came here and saved freedom. And then they went home and showed us all what freedom is all about," he said. "The American sons and daughters who saw us to victory were not less extraordinary in peace.

"In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights, revolutionized science, launched a man to the moon and then kept on pushing to new frontiers," he added. "And today, America is stronger than ever before.”

Macron explicitly spoke of the necessity of the alliance forged in World War II and on the beaches of Normandy. He repeatedly expressed gratitude for the support of forces from the U.S. and other countries, at one point listing off the more than a dozen nations that contributed to the invasion.

“Being worthy of the promise of Normandy means never forgetting that free peoples, when they join forces, can surmount nay adversity," Macron said through a translator. "The victory against barbarism could never have been possible without the decisive support of the United States."

“The promise of Normandy will be supported by France with all its might. I promise this will be the case,” Macron added. “And this is at the heart of America’s destiny, too.”

Following their remarks, Trump, Macron and their wives observed a military flyover and toured the Normandy American Cemetery where many D-Day veterans are buried.

Thursday's event drew leaders from around the world, as well as numerous U.S. officials.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. John Lankford (R-Okla.), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) were among the members of a bipartisan delegation who traveled to Normandy to observe the ceremonies.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and former Secretary of State John Kerry were among current and former Cabinet members who took in the proceedings.

Trump will spend part of Thursday in France before returning to Ireland and one of his properties, where he will spend the night ahead of the flight back to Washington, D.C. on Friday.

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