Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day Anniversary

As a huge history buff, I've always wanted to visit the beaches of Normandy and all the historical sites located in this area of France. Can you imagine standing where over 150,000 Allied servicemen (half of them Americans) stormed the French coast to establish the foothold that would end World War II? Just thinking about it leaves me in awe. I can't imagine what it would be like to see it in person.

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of that historic day. President Obama and British PM, Gordon Brown, were in Normandy today to honor the sacrifice of those who fought 65 years ago. I was particularly impressed with Brown's speech. Here are just a few of his remarks:

And now, more than half a century on, we remember those who advanced grain of sand by grain of sand, utterly determined amid the bullets and the bloodshed that freedom would not be pushed back into the sea, but would rise from these beaches below to liberate a continent and save a generation.

This is sacred ground. This day marks the triumph of good over evil, and truth over lies, and the victory of human decency over hatred and the Holocaust.

Those who risked everything here sixty five years ago demonstrated that although tyranny may suppress, it cannot endure forever. They proved that dictatorship may for a time have the power to dictate, but that it will not in the end decide the course of the human journey.

They enacted the belief that as long as one of us is not free, no one of us is free. They made real the timeless values enshrined in the bill of rights, the declaration of independence, the charter of liberty and in the call of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

In doing so they embodied not just the hopes of one age but the dreams of all ages.

So now we must complete our great covenant with the dead of D-Day: our promise that we would build a world worthy of their sacrifice and their heroism.

For how can we say we have achieved all we set out to do, the promise of peace and justice, when the shadow of nuclear proliferation still spreads across the earth? When Darfur is in the grip of genocide, Burma is in chains, Zimbabwe is in agony? When the enemy is not just violence but the mortal threat of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease and want?

There are dreams of liberation still to be realized, commitments still to be redeemed, and vows to the dead still to be kept. And so we must be as if liberators for our day and for our generation.

For today we are only half way to honoring the pledges we made for a new world. The beacon of hope that was lit with the liberation of Europe must now lead us on. Lead us on to a world, finally delivered from the evil of poverty and the sin of prejudice, where intolerance is never tolerated; where no one suffers persecution or discrimination on grounds of race, or faith, or differences of identity and nationality.

This place of all places affirms that free people can bend history in the direction of our best hopes. So it was on D-Day; so it is today.

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