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The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc

Posted Sunday, June 6, 2010, at 2:16 PM

Print by Larry Selman / www.valorstudios.com
On June 6th / 1984 President Ronald Reagan gave these remarks celebrating the 40th Anniversary of D-Day at Normandy France.


We're here to mark that day in History when Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for it's rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

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, 225 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 cam here. After two days of fighting, one ninety could still bear arms.

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 here. 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. 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 the men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air singed with your honor."

I think I know what you may be thinking right now - thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well, everyone was. You remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading reinforcements and ignoring the smack of bullets into the ground around him.

lord Lovat was with him - Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th lancers, The Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeoman of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet", and you, the American Rangers.

Forty Summers have passed since that battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest of joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do that? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge - and pray God we have not lost it - that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought - of felts in their hearts, thought they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling churches at 4AM, in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-Day; their rock hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His Blessing in what we're about to do. Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua, "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned tot he people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. these were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and live of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. there was the first great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led tot he Atlantic alliance - a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity,and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy of planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to reach again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lesson the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we were ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet union that they are willing to move forward, that they share in our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We're bound today by what bounds us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential tot he continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you all very much, and God bless you all.


Showing most recent comments first
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Israel - buddy, forgive me. I did not recognize you at first. Damn, it is really good to hear from you.

You are never too old to learn, and I am glad you are thinking about getting more education. It is, as you said, a bit much when you have to be educated before placing yourself inside today's socialist higher education system. But, being that you're a black belt in a couple of the martial arts, I think you'll do fine! LOL

I am heading to Phoenix in the next couple of days. I hope to run into you. I wrote a blog about having lunch with you and your pals the day the Arizona anti-illegal immigration bill was signed, and the lefties naturally called me a liar. But, the left always has cranial-rectal infusion when confronted with truth.

Regarding Reformed Right Winger. There is no such thing. In all of my years, I have never, not once, ever, ran into anyone who was a conservative that converted to a liberal. It just does not happen. I guess it could happen, a person could suffer a severe blow to the head from being in the ring with you!

Guillermo and his pals are socialists/communists mouthpieces, and they think that jabberwocky is a substitute for honest thought or debate.

Loudmouth did have some good advise. Listening to Rush Limbaugh would be very beneficial to discovering truth and to understand liberal thinking (or lack of it).

The liberals love the "balance thing". In the liberal world, if you have a beautiful wonderful wife, you should look for an ugly horrible wife, just to be balanced. What libs hate to admit, and never will, is that there is no "other side" to truth. There is only truth and non truth. They try and push non truth as truth, just to be balanced. Truth to a liberal is like Kryptonite to Superman. They hate truth because truth exposes them.

Hope to see you soon in Phoenix.

-- Posted by sameldridge on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 8:39 PM

I told you to save your rap guillermo. You must not be able to understand what you read. Even a new guy in politics can see you listed only socialist and obama propaganda sources. The Huffingtion Post? Give me an entire break bro. I also did a little research on your Howard Zinn dude. Another socialist. I thought it was funny that he tried to blame his actions as a air force bomber during the world war 2 on his commanders. If being educated makes someone act and talk like you Guillermo, you know I'll pass. I have to agree with the Sam man that you are brainwashed. Thankfully I am not.

-- Posted by Is.Gomez on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 7:29 PM

I am not in school bro but thinking about going back. I have this weird feeling that I must educate myself to the truth before going to college. Finding the right college is going to be hard. The next time you are in Arizona and deliver pipe to us, we can talk about it.

Guillermo, save your rap bro, not interested in anything you have to say. I can recognize crap when I see it or smell it.

-- Posted by Is.Gomez on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 6:37 PM

CPB and Arley - Thanks

Gomez - History is important. We are suppose to learn from history. That is why I get so upset at what is being called history in many public school/indoctrination centers. The history taught today teaches an America that is racist and evil.

I would encourage you to read separately from any public school or college liberal indoctrination you may be currently going through. You will be able to see first hand how truth is ignored by today's 'modern' history indoctrinators.

1. Franklin: America's Essential Founding Father by Andrew Allison

2. The Real George Washington by Jay A. Parry

#. And a book, which very damn few of today's so-called enlightened educated has read, The Federalist Papers: by Alexander Hamilton.

Glad to have you aboard Gomez. God Bless.

-- Posted by sameldridge on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 12:41 PM

Thanks, Sam. Ironic, your offering reminded me about the hero who lived in Imperial, who was badly burned saving his crew, and B27 aircraft, from certain destruction, and death.

May we soon 'beat our swords into plow-shares,' and teach war no more.

-- Posted by Navyblue on Mon, Jun 7, 2010, at 8:34 PM

Fabulous Sam, Thank you!

-- Posted by Chunky Peanut Butter on Mon, Jun 7, 2010, at 6:58 PM

This was a great speech and I am finding that there is much I need to learn. I never heard about the Rangers climbing those cliffs before. President Reagan talked quite a bit about God in this speech, and faith in God. I will look at dday much differently from now on.

-- Posted by Is.Gomez on Sun, Jun 6, 2010, at 10:29 PM

thanks, sam

-- Posted by tiney56 on Sun, Jun 6, 2010, at 6:53 PM

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