In one of the most memorable speeches of his presidency, Ronald Reagan stood at Normandy on June 6, 1984 (the 40th Anniversary of D-Day) and described how Army Rangers had scaled cliffs and defeated enemy troops who were firing down on them:
“In seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe,” Reagan said on June 6, 1984, to a crowd that included old soldiers who wept as the president described their heroism.
“Two hundred and twenty-five came here,” Reagan said. “After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.”
Paying tribute to the Rangers who climbed the cliffs, Reagan said, “These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. … These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”
D-Day: On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high — more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded — but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.