“Democracy starts with each of us,” Biden says at the site of the D-Day invasion in Normandy

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden, speaking from the site of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France, said Friday that those who support democracy must remember what World War II soldiers sacrificed and live up to those ideals.

Biden’s remarks came during commemorations of the 80th anniversary of D-Day and were intended to link threats to democracy in the 1940s to threats that exist today in the United States and Europe.

“American democracy requires the hardest thing of all – the belief that we are part of something bigger than ourselves,” Biden said. “Democracy therefore begins with each of us.”

Biden spoke from the Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc, where former President Ronald Reagan in 1984 gave a memorable speech on the 40th anniversary of the invasion.

The statuebuilt by the French, it is located eight miles west of the Normandy American Cemetery and was built to honor members of the U.S. Second Ranger Battalion.

Biden entered to deliver a speech alongside Scott Desjardins, superintendent of the Normandy American Cemetery, who later told reporters he had spoken to the president about the battle.

“I explained to him that when the Rangers were still alive, they would have told us that climbing the cliff wasn’t the hard part,” Desjardins told White House pool reporters. “To stay in this area for two and a half days while outnumbered is truly an amazing thing at Pointe du Hoc.”

First Sergeant Gavin Stith of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and his wife Kourtney Stith attended the speech along with about 150 others. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also participated in the meeting.

​ Pfc John M. WardellAlso in the audience, according to pool reports, was a 99-year-old man from New Jersey who landed in France on June 18, 1944, and spoke with Blinken.

Standing up to dictators

Biden said during 12-minute speech the soldiers who stormed the beach in 1944 decided that a dictator who was threatening democracy in Europe must be opposed, and that today’s people must live up to that demand.

“Does anyone doubt that he would like America to oppose Putin’s (Russian leader Vladimir) aggression in Europe today?” Biden asked.

“In the 1930s and 1940s, they fought to dismantle hateful ideology,” Biden added. “Does anyone doubt that they would not move heaven and earth to annihilate today’s hateful ideologies? These guardians put the mission and the country before themselves. Does anyone believe that today they would expect less from every American?”

Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier in the day and announced a $225 million aid package for the country to aid in the war against Russia’s invasion.

During the meeting, Biden told Zelensky that his country’s efforts to win the war were “remarkable” and apologized for the time it took Congress to approve the latest round of military and humanitarian aid.

“I’m sorry for the weeks where I didn’t know what was going to happen in terms of funding because we had trouble getting the bill that we needed to pass that included the money,” Biden said during Zelensky’s meeting. “Some of our very conservative members stood by it. But we finally made it.”

“Be part of something bigger than ourselves”

Biden said during his speech at Pointe du Hoc that the Allied soldiers who scaled these cliffs on D-Day and all died would ask every American today to “stay true to what America stands for.”

“They are not asking us to lay down our lives or risk our lives, but they are asking us to care more about others in our country than about ourselves,” Biden said. “They don’t ask us to do their job. They ask us to do our job; to protect freedom in our times, to defend democracy, to oppose aggression abroad and at home, to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”

If Americans want to honor the sacrifices of our country’s soldiers during World War II, they must “ensure the durability of our democracy and the soul of our nation,” he said.

Biden did not mention the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, former President Donald Trump, by name, but Democrats have repeatedly emphasized the threat they believe Trump poses to democracy.

Biden he said on Thursday at the Normandy American Cemetery near Omaha Beach, the bravery of the soldiers who stormed the beaches on D-Day, and the allied forces who worked together to defeat Nazi Germany and end the Holocaust.

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