June 6th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama joins WWII vets for D-Day tributes

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (CNN) – World leaders joined military veterans in northwest France on Saturday to pay respects to those who lost their lives 65 years ago in the D-Day landings of World War II.

President Obama, French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian PM Stephen Harper and Britain's Prince Charles are among those who attended a ceremony in a coastal cemetery that is the final resting place of many who lost their lives in the decisive operation.

"The battle of Normandy decided the outcome of the war," said Sarkozy, the first to speak.

It was "won by soldiers 20 years of age who killed so as not to be killed." The French president described the horrors of the battle, where so many died before they were able to land that "those who did make it ashore waded through the bodies of the dead and wounded that floated in on the tide."

He cited a letter from a U.S. soldier who said the day "was like a waking nightmare. The ground was so strewn with bodies that you could practically cross the beach without touching the sand."

"Never, never will France forget," he vowed.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Simmy

    A wonderful program.......President Obama was masterful in delivery as always.....I also enjoyed Pres. Sarkozy's speech..........First Lady MIchele looked radiant, as did First Lady Sarkozy......What a fitting tribute to those brave men and women.......Oral history is vital to the perpetuation of knowledge, dignity and pride in every culture - every nation.....Right man - Great mission......God bless America......

    June 6, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. katiec

    It was a beautiful ceremony. Always get goose bumps when Taps
    are played.
    A good reminder of the what war does to the innocent.

    June 6, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    May we never see anything like WW ll ever again. Also it was good to see Tom Hanks there, doing so much for our Vets.
    Watching the ceremony was very moving and powerful!
    Like your freedoms...Thank a Vet!!

    Freedom is never free!
    Bless all our Vets

    June 6, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    let us all learn from the past
    and remember those who died for our freedom
    and the freedom of the world from people who think they need power
    of life and death of another person
    I salute all

    June 6, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. me

    do Michele and Carla talk about what they will wear? It seems that they always wear similar outfits :-)
    it is so funny!

    June 6, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. makesUwonder

    God Bless our past, present, and future military HERO'S!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Don't know if CNN will post this, but if they do...............these men and women in the military love getting letters and packages from us here in the states. You can go to many places such as--AnySoldier.com--and get names and locations of these Hero's and send them items. THEY LOVE IT. Sending them simple things such as snacks, toothpaste, socks, candy, etc. etc. etc..........the simple things we take for granted, means a lot to these fine folks. We don't have family members in the military, but I view all these HERO'S as a member of my family. We've done it for them and it's just a nice feeling to know you're making a brave soldier's life a little better.

    .Thank you military HERO'S for all you do for us!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 6, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. tom

    My father was their and when he would tell about it his eyes would pool with water. If often wondered not only about his friends and their families but what was the impact on all the soldiers that he killed.
    "Son you will never know how difficult it is to look down the barrel of a gun and kill someone who looks and acts and has a family just like you."
    My father committed succiide at the age of 86 and I can't help but think the ghosts of D-Day didn't call him.

    June 6, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Dawn in Pa

    To Steve from Las Vegas, WWII was a war to end all wars, sorry to say we have another, WWIII.

    To bad my first comment was pulled from this post. It was not bad, and it was not offensive, it actually was the truth.

    I had a great cousin who died in WWII, I had a childhood friend whose mother was born in Nazi Germany.

    It was beautiful to see the Allies there to Liberate France from the clutches of Germany, seeing them fly over, it's also touching.

    Bless the United States of America and please Mr. President keep us safe.

    Be grateful that we have never heard those horriffic sirens and bombs dropping. Think of Europe and what happened there.

    Bless the United States of America.

    June 6, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Helen Deere, North Carolina

    The Pittsboro High School Class of 1943 is celebrating their 66th high school reunion today.(They were the last graduating class in NC that only had to go to school for 11 years, rather than 12.)
    They celebrate the life of the first member of their class who died on D-day on a Normandy beach at the age of 18. D.C. Densen, "the kindest guy you would ever want to know", told high high school teacher in class one day that if he went over to fight in Europe he would never come back. The teacher responded "don't say that D.C." D.C. replied, "well its true." And the story goes that D.C. thought he saw somebody he knew during the invasion, stood up to say hello, and was killed instantly by German fire power.
    God bless D.C. Densen. God bless Barack Obama. God bless the citizens of the world as we never forget those who are fighting for our freedoms and for better respect and understanding among us.
    Helen (NC)

    June 6, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. special kay

    Thanks to ALL the brave women and men PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE....as someone stated earlier freedom is not free, sometimes it comes with a heavy price...GOD BLESS our vets and soldiers...

    June 6, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Ann

    another speech..

    June 6, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. Osama Bin Laden

    I've got one question to ask. They recognize all branches except the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Army Reserves in the landings on Normandy beaches, When Omaha beach and one more beach were hit predominately by National Guard and Army Reserve troops. Some their first combat action ever. It is a shame how the United States has unrecognized these units that participated in every major war this country has had. Of course we all know that once mobilized your all United State Military forces but not to recognize and call out the Units like they do others is a DISGRACE AND A SHAME. The 36th Infantry Division that Audie Murphy belonged to was a Texas Army National Guard Unit. Ask some of them if they were in France, Germany and Normandy.

    June 6, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Proud DHS radical

    I see he brought his trusty teleprompter along with him. Don't leave home without it.

    June 6, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. thank-you

    its funny if you go to foxnews website and read a similar story (Pres. Obama and his speech today) and look at the post their readers leave, soo full of hate and anger on the one day where everyone should be united.... its awfully sad.... and THEY wont even post my comments.....

    June 6, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    @ Ann June 6th, 2009 11:45 am ET ...........another speech..
    _________________________________________________

    Ann, D-Day was and still is and always will be a day to be remembered in reverence as it was a time when the world changed for you. You see, men followed orders and went to war to stop the spread of the Nazis and to stop the elimination of the Jews. If Hitler had not been stopped then you would not have had the right to make the sarcastic comment you made here today. You may not like or support our leader but on today he represents our country as we pay homage to those who fought in WW II so that we might have peace.

    June 6, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Chery Tx

    @Ann June 6th, 2009 11:45 am ET another speech.**Go to WalMart !!!

    God Bless our past, present, and future military HERO'S!!!!

    June 6, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. Perusing-Through

    JOB WELL DONE!
    Televised showing of Normandy D-Day ceremonies was wonderfully done. Both CNN and MSNBC did a masterful job. All the speakers nailed it. The sweeping camera views of beautiful and meticulously cared for cemetery grounds with the English Channel in the background were stunning. The military jet flyovers were spectacular, especially when the American F-14’s (or F-15’s, not sure which) performed the ‘missing man formation’. Got choked up after that.

    June 6, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. worriedmom

    Was a beautiful ceremony. Thank you veterans for bringing peace to us.

    June 6, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. makesUwonder

    thank-you June 6th, 2009 12:00 pm ET

    its funny if you go to foxnews website and read a similar story (Pres. Obama and his speech today) and look at the post their readers leave, soo full of hate and anger on the one day where everyone should be united…. its awfully sad…. and THEY wont even post my comments…..

    -------------------------------

    Sort of like when President Bush did a speech on this same day in years past and there were post from people full of "hate and anger on the one day where everyone should be united". Comes from both sides.

    June 6, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. whaley41

    A very moving ceremony. God bless our soldiers then and now. One of the veterans made the comment that "freedom is not free". The rows of white crosses attest to that. God bless our military and God bless America.

    June 6, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. HEIDI

    What is all the stuipd crap about a telepromter? If you had to give a speech that was 45mins to an 1hr long you would have either notes are possible a telepromter, so people who post need to get a life and get some anger management classes.

    June 6, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. Dawn in Pa

    @ thank-you: Fox Noise say they are fair and balenced, do you believe it? I know that MSNBC is liberal, but not all, each Cable news shows has some that is far right and some have far left. They just follow Hannity, Rove, Cheney, Bilo the Clown and then we cannot leave the the talking head of the RNC Rush Limbaugh. Just read that when you want to get your frustration out of your system. They have no class.

    June 6, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Ernestine

    @Proud DHS radical June 6th, 2009 11:58 am ET

    I rather him use a teleprompter when he makes his speeches instead of screwing up and looking like a fool like somebody we knew.

    June 6, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. Simmy

    thank-you,

    It is a sad commentary of America to see how so many have allowed themselves to be consumed by hatred.......FOX and theirs seem to be suspended in a world of animation.....They no longer portray themselves as flesh and blood individuals......They look and act like cartoon characters........I can't watch them (FX) more than a minute because I always visualize that lady with the tea bags hat......They are scary and dangerous.....They all need to be placed on Sec. Napolitano's watch list.......I love this country and my life.....I am thrilled to be alive in such a wonderful era......Misery will get no sympathy nor company from me....Peace....

    June 6, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Hopeful Optimist

    When I came home from Vietnam I felt somewhat ashamed of my service. As the years have passed, I don't feel that way anymore. Our mission might not have been noble, but I think our hearts were in the right place even if our leaders were off the mark. I love our American servicemen and women - they are, on the whole, an exemplary lot. And although the WWII vets are considered the greatest generation, I believe we still produce young folks that are and can be just as heroic.

    June 6, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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