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Macron helps veteran to his feet, Trump gets a salute: Key moments from Trump's D-Day address in Normandy

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World War II veterans were honored in Normandy, France for their D-Day sacrifice 75 years ago.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump delivered sobering remarks in Normandy, France, Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings there that set into motion the final phase of World War II.

At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Trump told the stories of American soldiers and other key figures who helped make the invasion a success on June 6, 1944. 

Here are some of the key moments from Trump’s speech:

‘You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live’

Trump thanked the 170 assembled World War II veterans in attendance at the event, including 60 who shared the stage with him and other global leaders. This year’s commemoration is expected to be one of the last to include veterans in attendance, as an 18-year-old on D-Day would be 93 today.

“You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live,” Trump said. “You’re the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”  

More: European allies made the D-Day landing at Normandy possible. 75 years later, Trump questions those bonds

More: 97-year-old veteran Paratrooper skydives for D-Day 75th anniversary

Trump acknowledges the allied nations 

Despite his recent clashes with American allies, Trump referenced the contributions of the other Allied nations that took part in the invasion. 

“There were the fighting Poles, the tough Norwegians, the intrepid Aussies. There were the gallant French commanders… ready to write a new chapter in the long history of French valor,” he said. 

More: D-Day veterans saluted with cannons and flyover to commemorate 75th anniversary

More: D-Day: 17 stunning photos from 1944 show how hard the Normandy invasion really was

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President Trump shared D-Day veteran Ray Lambert’s World War II story. Lambert was in attendance to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
USA TODAY

Trump shakes hand of Purple Heart recipient

Trump told the stories of several surviving veterans in his speech, and shook the hand of Army medic Ray Lambert, who was 23 on D-Day.

“At 98 years old, Ray is here with us today, with his fourth Purple Heart and his third Silver Star from Omaha,” Trump said. “Ray, the free world salutes you.”

The president also shook Lambert’s hand. Lambert then tipped his hat to Trump. 

Macron helps D-Day hero stand up 

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French President Emmanuel Macron helped World War II veteran Russell Pickett stand during the ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
USA TODAY

When he described the heroic actions of Private Russell Pickett, a member of the fabled 29th Infantry Division that was among the first to land at the French beaches, he went over and gave him a hug. French President Emmanuel Macron helped Pickett, who is now 94 years old and was 19 years old on D-Day, stand up. 

“Today, believe it or not, he has returned to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Pickett, you honor us all with your presence,” the president said.

“Tough guy,” Trump then joked, drawing laughter from the audience. 

Trump thanks a French family for leading American soldiers 

Trump thanked the descendant of a French woman who had helped American soldiers on D-Day. The family, the father of which was a member of the French resistance, had originally owned some land near Omaha Beach, and Trump told the story of what happened to them on D-Day.

“His terrified wife waited out D-Day in a nearby house, holding tight to their little baby girl,” Trump said. “The next day, a soldier appeared. ‘I’m an American,’ he said. ‘I’m here to help.’ The French woman was overcome with emotion and cried. Days later, she laid flowers on fresh American graves.”

Trump explained that the couple’s granddaughter now works as a guide at the Normandy cemetery.

The human toll of the conflict 

As one of the largest military operations in modern history, the human cost of D-Day is giant — 9,388 Americans are now buried at Normandy. 

Trump thanked French families who “come from all over France to look after our boys. They kneel. They cry. They pray. They place flowers. And they never forget. Today, America embraces the French people and thanks you for honoring our beloved dead.”

More: ‘You’re the pride of our nation,’ Donald Trump tells veterans on 75th D-Day anniversary in Normandy

More: French President Macron thanks D-Day veterans in English

Trump praises alliances: ‘Our bond is unbreakable’ 

Towards the end of his speech, Trump thanked the contributions of the Allies and said that “our bond is unbreakable,” even 75 years later. 

“To all our friends and partners, our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war and proven in the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable,” he said. 

The legacy of the veterans continues, says Trump

Trump thanked the veterans for having “left a legacy that will live not only for a thousand years, but for all time.”

“In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights … and then kept on pushing to new frontiers,” he said. 

Contributing: John Fritze 

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