The French President has thanked US veterans for France’s “freedom” at a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Speaking at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, President Emmanuel Macron turned to the rows of WWII veterans seated behind him and said: "We know what we owe to you veterans – our freedom.”
“On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you."
To you, veterans. pic.twitter.com/JpTX8aWJKY
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 6, 2019
He also personally addressed the US President Donald Trump, who was attending the Normandy ceremony, urging him to embrace the international institutions that were set up after the war.
He said institutions like the UN, NATO and the EU aimed to “perpetuate the alliance of free peoples” and warned that “liberty and democracy are inseparable.”
President Trump has been heavily critical of both the UN and EU and has called for NATO members to significantly increase their spending on defence.
He met with a number of leading Brexiteers during this week’s state visit to the UK.
The leaders were gathered at Colleville-sur-Mer 75 years to the day since 150,000 Allied troops invaded Normandy in a series of beach landings.
Thousands of Allied and German soldiers were killed in the fighting – and the landings are credited as the decisive turning point of the war in Europe.
In his own speech, President Trump said the WWII veterans are “among the very greatest Americans who will ever live.”
“You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” he said.
He said the “brave, unyielding, and true” spirit of the men that fought on Omaha Beach will “never die.”
“The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made did not just win a battle; it did not just win a war – those who fought here won a future for our nation,” he said.
“They won the survival of our civilization.
“And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.
“Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united.
“We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children and their children will forever and always be free.”
A host of other world leaders are in France today for the commemorations.
President Trump will return to Ireland this evening and will spend the night in County Clare before playing golf tomorrow.