Here is the video clip of Reagan's D-Day Address. Scroll
down for the transcript.
It follows the full text transcript of
Ronald Reagan's D-Day Address, delivered at the
site of the U.S. Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc, France -
June 6, 1984.
We're here to mark
that day in history when the Allied armies
joined in battle to reclaim this continent to
For 4 long years,
much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow.
Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the
camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe
was enslaved, and the world prayed for its
rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here
the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a
giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the
northern shore of France. The air is soft, but
40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense
with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was
filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar
of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of
June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British
landing craft and ran to the bottom of these
cliffs. Their mission was one of the most
difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb
these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the
enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some
of the mightiest of these guns were here and
they would be trained on the beaches to stop the
The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy
soldiers, the edge of the cliffs shooting down
at them with machineguns and throwing grenades.
And the American Rangers began to climb. They
shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs
and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger
fell, another would take his place. When one
rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and
begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back,
and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the
Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in
seizing the firm land at the top of these
cliffs, they began to seize back the continent
of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came
here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could
still bear arms.
Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the
Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of
these cliffs. And before me are the men who put
These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are
the men who took the cliffs. These are the
champions who helped free a continent. These are
the heroes who helped end a war.
Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the
words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who
in your "lives fought for life . . . and left
the vivid air signed with your honor.''
I think I know what you may be thinking right
now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger
effort; everyone was brave that day.'' Well,
everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill
Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago
today, British troops were pinned down near a
bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly,
they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some
thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't.
They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his
bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and
ignoring the smack of the bullets into the
ground around him.
Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of
Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to
the bridge, "Sorry I'm a few minutes late,'' as
if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in
truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on
Sword Beach, which he and his men had just
There was the impossible valor of the Poles who
threw themselves between the enemy and the rest
of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the
unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had
already seen the horrors of war on this coast.
They knew what awaited them there, but they
would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno
Beach, they never looked back.
All of these men were part of a roll call of
honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright
as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg
Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots
Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of
England's armored divisions, the forces of Free
France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet'' and
you, the American Rangers.
Forty summers have passed since the battle that
you fought here. You were young the day you took
these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than
boys, with the deepest joys of life before you.
Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did
you do it? What impelled you to put aside the
instinct for self-preservation and risk your
lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all
the men of the armies that met here? We look at
you, and somehow we know the answer. It was
faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they
were doing was right, faith that they fought for
all humanity, faith that a just God would grant
them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It
was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have
not lost it -- that there is a profound, moral
difference between the use of force for
liberation and the use of force for conquest.
You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and
so you and those others did not doubt your
cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all knew that some things are worth dying
for. One's country is worth dying for, and
democracy is worth dying for, because it's the
most deeply honorable form of government ever
devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of
you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew
the people of your countries were behind you.
The Americans who fought here that morning knew
word of the invasion was spreading through the
darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in
their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact,
that in Georgia they were filling the churches
at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their
porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they
were ringing the Liberty Bell.
Something else helped the men of D-day: their
rock-hard belief that Providence would have a
great hand in the events that would unfold here;
that God was an ally in this great cause. And
so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel
Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel
with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your
heads, but look up so you can see God and ask
His blessing in what we're about to do. Also
that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot,
listening in the darkness for the promise God
made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor
These are the things that impelled them; these
are the things that shaped the unity of the
When the war was over, there were lives to be
rebuilt and governments to be returned to the
people. There were nations to be reborn. Above
all, there was a new peace to be assured. These
were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies
summoned strength from the faith, belief,
loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They
rebuilt a new Europe together.
There was first a great reconciliation among
those who had been enemies, all of whom had
suffered so greatly. The United States did its
part, creating the Marshall plan to help rebuild
our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall
plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great
alliance that serves to this day as our shield
for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.
In spite of our great efforts and successes, not
all that followed the end of the war was happy
or planned. Some liberated countries were lost.
The great sadness of this loss echoes down to
our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague,
and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the
center of this continent did not leave when
peace came. They're still there, uninvited,
unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the
war. Because of this, allied forces still stand
on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our
armies are here for only one purpose -- to
protect and defend democracy. The only
territories we hold are memorials like this one
and graveyards where our heroes rest.
We in America have learned bitter lessons from
two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to
protect the peace, than to take blind shelter
across the sea, rushing to respond only after
freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism
never was and never will be an acceptable
response to tyrannical governments with an
But we try always to be prepared for peace;
prepared to deter aggression; prepared to
negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes,
prepared to reach out again in the spirit of
reconciliation. In truth, there is no
reconciliation we would welcome more than a
reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so,
together, we can lessen the risks of war, now
It's fitting to remember here the great losses
also suffered by the Russian people during World
War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price
that testifies to all the world the necessity of
ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in
the United States do not want war. We want to
wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible
weapons that man now has in his hands. And I
tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead.
We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that
they are willing to move forward, that they
share our desire and love for peace, and that
they will give up the ways of conquest. There
must be a changing there that will allow us to
turn our hope into action.
We will pray forever that some day that changing
will come. But for now, particularly today, it
is good and fitting to renew our commitment to
each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance
that protects it.
We are bound today by what bound us 40 years
ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and
beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of
America's allies is vital to the United States,
and the American security guarantee is essential
to the continued freedom of Europe's
democracies. We were with you then; we are with
you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your
destiny is our destiny.
Here, in this place where the West held
together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us
show them by our actions that we understand what
they died for. Let our actions say to them the
words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I
will not fail thee nor forsake thee.''
Strengthened by their courage, heartened by
their value [valor], and borne by their memory,
let us continue to stand for the ideals for
which they lived and died.