Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says D-Day celebrations taking place in Europe are especially important this year, given the strain on international institutions like the European Union.
The ex-Obama administration official told DailyMail.com outside the Normandy American Cemetery that the EU ‘was created to stop people from killing each other’ and Allied nations ‘don’t want to go back’ to pre-war fault lines.
‘At a time when Europe is challenged, when people are pulling at institutions, I think it’s particularly important to focus on and think about what was accomplished here,’ he said of the June 6 invasion of German-occupied France 75 years ago.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says D-Day celebrations taking place in Europe are especially important this year, given the strain on international institutions like the European Union
Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, with the Americans landing at a site nicknamed Omaha Beach nearby the memorial and cemetery.
French and American Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump – with whom Kerry does not get along – honored the soldiers’ legacy at a Thursday afternoon ceremony. American legislators like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also attended.
Members of Pelosi’s party are pushing for Trump’s impeachment, and the House speaker reportedly told her caucus before she left that the Republican president belongs in jail.
She and Kerry steered clear of lobbing direct, political attacks on the sitting president on foreign soil, and both Democrats indicated they wanted to keep the D-Day focus on the more than 100 French and American veterans who’d triumphantly returned to Normandy for Thursday’s ceremony.
‘Well, we are here prayerfully, gratefully and patriotically to salute our veterans, and we have a strong bipartisan delegation to do just that,’ Pelosi told DailyMail.com inside the event.
She added, ‘But this is their day, and it’s, as we have done in the past, we’re here to praise them, to listen to their stories, to thank them, and to remember that what they had to do is protect freedom and save civilization, really, and that we have a responsibility and our mission is to build a future worthy of their sacrifice and their mission for peace.’
Members of Pelosi’s party are pushing for Trump’s impeachment, and the House speaker reportedly told her caucus the Republican president belongs in jail
A veteran himself, Kerry also said D-Day belongs to the troops who fought at Normandy.
He insisted his complaints about ‘people pulling at institutions’ were not intended as a slap at Trump, despite their dispute over the international nuclear agreement Kerry brokered with Iran and the Republican president pulled America out of.
Trump has questioned the benefit of post-war organizations like the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the United States, as well. And he’s heartily endorsed the UK’s break with the European Union.
‘This isn’t about President Trump – it’s about the sacrifices and the extraordinary contribution to global cooperation, to an understanding of how countries can live together and how we get beyond war and the sacrifices that were made to get there,’ Kerry argued.
‘And I think this is one of the greatest cooperative, massive commitments globally for people to stand up against tyranny, against oppression, against fascism, against authoritarianism for a broad set of values, about democracy and freedom and human rights. It’s as large a moment of a statement like that that I can think at any time in history.’
He said, ‘So we’re celebrating that today.’
The liberal Democrat’s comments seemed like a swipe at the nationalist president who has rejected globalist refrains that the U.S. must lead the way on international agreements.
But he said, ‘This is not a place to talk about Democrat or Republican or anything political. It’s a place to talk about the values themselves, and what young men gave their lives for, and the unity – the vision of Europe that came out of that.
‘Why was the EU created? It was created to stop people from killing each other. And Germany declared war against France and the rest of Europe. You had Italy, you had Europe in this convulsive moment, and we moved beyond that now.
‘And we don’t want to go back,’ the former U.S. senator said, ‘and everybody just fending for themselves, but where they’re fighting for the ability to address major global challenges – like climate change, which threatens nations all around the world – and a host of other challenges we’re gonna face.’
Kerry made the remarks ahead of President Donald Trump‘s address honoring American war heroes Thursday afternoon in France at the U.S. cemetery and memorial, where more than 9,300 soldiers who fought in WWII were laid to rest.
Trump also cast the battle that ensued as a fight for nothing less than civilization itself that was won by Allied forces driven by spirit, patriotism and military might.
‘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. 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,’ he said.
Trump is also in Europe for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He attended a ceremony in Portsmouth, England, on Wednesday before retiring to his golf property near Doonbeg, Ireland.
He flew to France in the morning, ahead of an official D-Day program, and delivered remarks in Colleville Sur-Mer, the location of the Normandy American Cemetery.
The burial grounds are the final resting place of 9,387 American soldiers who died in Europe in the Second World War.
Colleville-sur-Mer overlooks Omaha Beach, one of the D-Day landing sites. Former President Barack Obama dedicated a visitor’s center at the cemetery in 2009.
The property is on permanent loan to the United States from France at no cost to the nation that provided 73,000 soldiers to June 6, 1944 effort.
In total, 156,000 soldiers fighting for Allied nations stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day by land, by air and by sea.
American soldiers were assigned to two sites, codenamed Omaha, after the city in Nebraska, and Utah, after the Western state.
A group of at least 60 D-Day U.S. veterans from the war attended Thursday’s commemorative event at the American cemetery, which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Sens. John Barrasso and James Lankford also participated in.
Pelosi was seated front and center at the event in the cemetery and memorial.
While she’d reportedly told the Democratic caucus that Trump should be removed from office and jailed for alleged crimes in a closed-door meeting prior to leaving the U.S., she struck a non-partisan tone as she spoke to DailyMail.com at the memorial service in Collesville-sur-Mer.
She shared the details of her uncle’s service in the war with DailyMail.com and her conversation with WWII veterans who attended a similar ceremony at the cemetery in 2014.
‘When I was here five years ago, I was telling some of the veterans that my uncle died at the Battle of the Bulge. And the veterans said, “Oh, yeah. We went there after.” They just kept on fighting,’ she said. ‘I thought once they did the invasion of Normandy, they might be, you know, go home or something. But no – they kept on fighting.’
Pelosi maintained that the commemoration is about the veterans, as she avoided any mention of Trump or his politics.
The leaders of America’s top political parties did not come face-to-face while in France, given the U.S. president’s tight schedule.
He viewed a flyover on Omaha Beach before he broke off for talks and a working lunch with Macron in a local prefecture.
Normandy American Cemetery is the final resting place of several Medal of Honor recipients, including Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of the former president of the same name.
Roosevelt Jr’s great uncle, FDR, was America’s wartime president. The U.S. leader died months before the Axis fully dissolved and the Second World War ended.
President Trump read from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to the nation on D-Day during a ceremony in the British naval base of Portsmouth on Wednesday. The UK held a stately commemoration on the eve of invasion that’s considered the beginning of the end of the deadly war.
The U.S. president, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II took turns reading from letters and addresses that were meaningful to them at the D-Day 75 program in Great Britain.
Trump and his wife Melania joined Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles at a reception for WWII vets afterward that was held at the deployment site.
He concludes a five-day visit to the UK, France and Ireland on Friday, when he returns from Doonbeg to Washington.
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