This week in history

Today is the 63rd anniversary of D-Day. See a timeline of events that led up to the historic day here. And how about a word of prayer and thanks to our WWII military veterans who helped free the French from the Germans.

President Reagan’s speech at Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day comes to mind. Here are some excerpts:

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

You can read the rest of that speech, view a video of it, or hear audio of it here.

Speaking of the Gipper, yesterday was the three year anniversary of his death. We’re still missin’ you, Mr. President – your guidance, your humor, your wit, your strength.

Here’s Reagan giving one of my favorite speeches of all time. It’s especially relevant in these times:

The transcript of the “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech can be read here.

Incidentally, next Tuesday is the 20th anniversary of Reagan’s famous “Tear down this wall!” speech.

Here's to you, Mr. President

Here’s to you, Mr. President, and also to those who fought bravely on the shores of Normandy, in order to give freedom to total strangers. Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.

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