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June 6, 2014

President Reagan set the tone for D-Day observances

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

· Ronald Reagan, 40th anniversary, 1984: Reagan spoke at the top of the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, with 62 gray-haired surviving Rangers seated before him.

“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. ... 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.”

· Bill Clinton, 50th anniversary, 1994: Clinton attended the 50th anniversary, delivering his remarks at the U.S. Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

“Fifty years later, what a different world we live in. ... The question falls to our generation: How will we build upon the sacrifice of D-Day’s heroes? Like the soldiers of Omaha Beach, we cannot stand still. We cannot stay safe by doing so. ... For just as freedom has a price, it also has a purpose, and its name is progress.”

· George W. Bush, 60th anniversary, 2004: Bush went to Normandy in 2002 to observe Memorial Day. He returned for the 60th anniversary, speaking at the U.S. cemetery and accompanied by French President Jacques Chirac.

“All who are buried and named in this place are held in the loving memory of America. We pray in the peace of this cemetery that they have reached the far shore of God’s mercy. And we still look with pride on the men of D-Day, on those who served and went on. ...”

· Barack Obama, 65th anniversary, 2009: Obama recalled that his grandfather, a 26-year-old supply sergeant stationed near the English Channel, crossed the channel six weeks after D-Day and followed allied forces across France.

“At an hour of maximum danger, amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found within themselves the ability to do something extraordinary. ... That is the story of Normandy — but also the story of America; ... of all the young men and women whose valor and goodness still carry forward this legacy of service and sacrifice.”

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