D-Day: U.S. and Europe share enduring bond

Seventy-five years ago, on the sixth of June, 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Americans by radio. He spoke of “a mighty endeavor.” D-Day, we call it today — when U.S., British, Canadian and Free French forces launched the western front against Hitler’s forces in Europe and contributed to Nazi Germany’s final defeat 11 months later.

“Hundreds of thousands of young Americans and Free French sacrificed together to save civilization in its hour of greatest need,” said President Trump during French President Emmanuel Macron’s April 2018 Washington visit.

As Allied troops scaled the Pointe du Hoc cliffs, Roosevelt told his listeners they fought for “a peace that will let all of men live in freedom.”

Macron and Trump standing at attention among uniformed service members (© Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images)
President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House in Washington on April 24, 2018 (© Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images)

D-Day helped forge a trans-Atlantic bond that continues to ensure the freedom of millions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called it “a strong and enduring partnership born out of shared history, values, and decades of cooperation.”

Shared history forges unbreakable bond

World War II devastated Europe. U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall said the war dislocated “the entire fabric of European economy.” Speaking at Harvard University in 1947, Marshall called for a U.S. policy that would combat “hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.” “Its purpose,” he concluded, “should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

This was origin of the Marshall Plan, in which Europeans and Americans worked together to devise a program, financed by $12 billion of U.S. aid, to help rebuild what the war had damaged.

And the results? Today, as Secretary Pompeo has noted, the U.S. and the European Union enjoy “the largest economic relationship anywhere in the world, resulting in millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The trans-Atlantic bond similarly unites the allies in common defense. In 1949, the United States, Canada and 10 European allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Today the now 29 NATO allies collectively stand together. “We promote international security, address shared global challenges, and advance the prosperity of all our citizens,” Pompeo said. “We are a force for peace and democracy in the world.”

75 years

On June 6, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will observe the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer with President Macron. The president and first lady will attend an earlier D-Day ceremony with British Queen Elizabeth II in Portsmouth, England, the city from which Americans, British and Canadians staged their surprise attack. An estimated 10,000 Allied forces were killed, wounded or missing in action on D-Day, including 6,603 Americans.

Two women kneeling among rows of white crosses (© AP Images)
Two women kneel in the war cemetery behind the Normandy invasion beaches on June 6, 1945. (© AP Images)

As President Trump told the Allies gathered at Warsaw in 2017, “As long as we know our history, we will know how to build our future. Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and for our interests.”

“Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory.”