France June 6, 2014
France is buzzing. Totalkoverage of totalkrieg! For France today is saturated with images and memories of the D-Day landings. Last night, la Republique Francaise lit up the skies of Normandy with fireworks, bringing a rare glow and unity to all of Europe. For here, on June 6, 1944, onto the golden beaches, poured down a host of paratroopers, and the greatest array of naval forces in history spewed forth over 150, 000 of the continent´s liberators, in the face of German fire. Americans, British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Free French and many others struggled to gain a foothold to free the world from Hitler´s iron grip.
Here, today, June 6, 2014, the leaders of their countries are gathering to commemorate the courage of those troops, and to try to hammer out an agreement to stop a feared Russian penetration into Eastern Europe.
Last night, Host President Hollande, keen to build bridges, was forced to eat two dinners – one with Mr Obama, another with Mr Putin, for the American says he won´t talk with the Russian, because of Russia´s annexation of the Crimea. It’s hard being President of France, hard on your girth! Hollande hopes to put this D-Day commemoration to reconcile the two. In his Foreign Minister´s words: ¨France wants to be a unifier of the Nations.¨
Queen Elizabeth, herself a Second World War veteran, is visiting the largest British War Cemetery of that War, in Bayeux. Yesterday, at his side at the Arc de Triomphe, she revived the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. During the war, she drove ambulances and lorries. Now she steers the Ship of State. In impeccable French, she paid tribute to the sacrifice of the women of France and the World who fought in different ways and lost sons, husbands, brothers and friends.
President Hollande, himself born in war-ravaged Normandy, has just proclaimed his Nation´s recognition of the sacrifices of D-Day, military and civilian, for the freedom of our peoples. Addressing himself to the US, he saluted her saving his country, saying ¨What we love most in America is your love of freedom.¨
President Obama speaks at the Colleville cemetery, where his WWII predecessor Roosevelt´s sons lie, victims of both world wars. That a black man heads the world’s super-power is itself a victory over Nazi ideology. “Think of Harry Kulkowitz, the Jewish son of Russian immigrants, who fudged his age at enlistment so he could join his friends in the fight,” says Mr Obama. “Don’t worry, Harry, the statute of limitations has expired. Harry came ashore at Utah Beach on D-Day. And now that he’s come back, we said he could have anything he wants for lunch today — he helped liberate this coast, after all. But this humble hero said a hamburger would do fine. And what’s more American than that?”
The US President twice acclaims the veterans, who fought for our freedom, and evokes the prayer of Allied soldiers as they approached these beaches: ¨God give us guts!¨
If we want a world worthy of them, we have to be prepared to follow in their footsteps. ¨God give us guts!¨