- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2014

Telling World War II veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago that they exemplified the “powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom,” President Obama on Friday commemorated the D-Day invasion and paid a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in the fight to liberate Europe.

Mr. Obama — dogged at home by controversies from VA health care to the prisoner exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — clearly was in his element Friday, offering the kind of thematic, triumphant speech he became famous for leading up to his presidential win in 2008.

“It was here, on these shores, that the tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom. What more powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom that than the sight of wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they’d never met?” Mr. Obama said.

“America’s claim — our commitment — to liberty; to equality; to freedom; to the inherent dignity of every human being — that claim is written in blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity. Ohama, Normandy, this was democracy’s beachhead. And our victory in that war decided not just a century, but shaped the security and well-being of all posterity.”

Mr. Obama was joined at Friday’s ceremony by French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the leaders of other nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also came to France to observe the D-Day landing, but there are no formal plans for the Russian leader to meet with Mr. Obama.


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Mr. Obama on Thursday did open the door for an informal meeting with Mr. Putin, vowing to deliver a message centered on Ukraine’s fundamental right to freedom and self-determination and how Russia must cease meddling in the country’s affairs.

The president avoided any talk of today’s foreign policy challenges during his speech, beyond praising this generation of fighting men and women who now are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead, he used the address to break away from politics and rocky relationships with countries such as Russia.

On several occasions, he spoke specifically about the D-Day survivors who flanked him on stage.

“Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men,” he said. “These men waged war so that we might know peace. They sacrificed so that we might be free. They fought in hopes of a day when we’d no longer need to.”

Later on Friday, Mr. Obama will attend a heads of state lunch with Mr. Hollande, Mr. Putin and others at Normandy. He’ll also tour the beaches of the D-Day landing before departing France and returning to Washington on Friday evening.

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