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june6-Clinton-Hathaway Well, they didn't know James Rudder or Ken Bargmann, or the other men of D-Day. The didn't understand what happens when the free unite behind a great and worthy cause. For human miracles begin with personal choices -- millions of them gathered together as one, like the stars of a majestic galaxy. Here at this place, in Britain, in North America, and among resistance fighters in France and across Europe, all those numberless choices came together.
june6-color-guard-ship The choices of lion-hearted leaders to rally their people. The choices of people to mobilize for freedom's fight. The choices of their soldiers to carry on that fight into a world worn weary by devastation and despair. Every person in the democracies pitched in. Every shipbuilder who built a landing craft. Every woman who worked in a factory. Every farmer who grew food for the troops. Every miner who carved coal out of a cavern. Every child who tended a victory garden. All of them did their part. All produced things with their hands and their hearts that went into this battle. And on D-Day, all across the free world, the peoples of democracy prayed that they had done their job right. Well, they had done their job right.
june6-pdh-barbed-wire And, here, you, the Army Rangers, did yours. Your mission was to scale these cliffs and destroy the howitzers at the top that threatened every Allied soldier and ship within miles. You fired grappling hooks onto the cliff tops. You waded to shore and you began to climb -- up on ropes slick with sea and sand -- up, as the Germans shot down and tried to cut your lines. Up, sometimes holding to the cliffs with nothing but the knives you had and your own bare hands. As the battle raged at Juno, Sword and Gold, on Omaha and Utah, you took devastating casualties. But you also took control of these commanding heights. Around 9:00 a.m., two Rangers discovered the big guns hidden inland and disabled them with heat grenades. At that moment, you became the first Americans on D-Day to complete your mission.
june6-pdh-land-east We look at this terrain and we marvel at your fight. We look around us and we see what you were fighting for. For, here are the daughters of Colonel Rudder. Here are the son and grandson of Corporal Bargmann. Here are the faces for whom you risked your lives. Here are the generations for whom you won a war.
june6-pdh-cliff-view We are the children of your sacrifice. We are the sons and daughters you saved from tyranny's reach. We grew up behind the shield of the strong alliances you forged in blood upon these beaches, on the shores of the Pacific, and in the skies above. We flourished in the nation you came home to build. The most difficult days of your lives bought us 50 years of freedom. You did your job; now we must do ours. Let us begin by teaching our young people about the villainy that started this war and the valor that ended it. Let us carry on the work you began here. The sparks of freedom you struck on these beaches were never extinguished, even in the darkest days behind the Iron Curtain. Five years ago the miracle of liberation was repeated as the rotting timbers of communism came tumbling down.
june6-Hillary Now we stand at the start of a new day. The Soviet Empire is gone. So many people who fought as our partners in this war -- the Russians, the Poles, and others -- now stand again as our partners in peace and democracy. Our work is far from done. Still there are cliffs to scale. We must work to contain the world's most deadly weapons, to expand the reach of democracy. We must keep ready arms and strong alliances. We must have strong families and cohesive societies and educated citizens and vibrant, open, economies that promote cooperation, not conflict.
june6-Clinton-leaving And if we should ever falter, we need only remember you at his spot 50 years ago, and you, again, at this spot today. The flame of your youth became freedom's lamp, and we see it s light reflected in your faces still, and in the faces of your children and grandchildren.

We commit ourselves, as you did, to keep that lamp burning for those who will follow. You completed your mission here. But the mission of freedom goes on; the battle continues. The "longest day" is not yet over. God bless you, and God bless America.

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©Copyright 1994-2001 Vivian E. Corbin. All photographs contained herein are the work and intellectual property of the author and may not be used without the author's express written permission.