Biden offers forceful defense of democracy in Normandy speech commemorating D-Day

ByAlexandra Hutzler ABCNews logo
Friday, June 7, 2024
Biden offers forceful defense of democracy in Normandy speech
Biden offers forceful defense of democracy in Normandy speech

NORMANDY, France -- President Joe Biden, in France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, offered a forceful defense of democracy at a site of American heroism during World War II.

Biden delivered remarks from Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, where Army Rangers scaled 100-foot cliffs to seize the German ammunition that could have been used against troops at Omaha and Utah beaches.

"As we gather here today, it's not just to honor those who showed such remarkable bravery that day June 6, 1944," Biden said. "It's to listen to the echo of their voices. To hear them. Because they are summoning us. They're asking us what will we do. They're not asking us to scale these cliffs. They're asking us to stay true to what America stands for."

It is the same backdrop where Ronald Reagan, the first U.S. president to visit Normandy to mark the anniversary allied forces invading occupied France 40 years later, gave an iconic speech lauding the men who fought there and the need for alliances against totalitarianism.

Biden on Friday similarly addressed principles of American democracy and leadership on the world stage.

"American democracy asks the hardest of things: to believe that we're a part of something bigger than ourselves," Biden said. "So democracy begins with each of us. Begins when one person decides there is something more important than themselves."

Before his speech, Biden met face-to-face with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reiterate U.S. support for the war-torn nation in its fight against Russian forces.

Biden commended the bravery of the people of Ukraine and Zelenskyy's authority against Vladimir Putin's invasion.

"And you're proving once again that people cannot and will never be overtaken and I assure you, the United States is going to stand with you," Biden said.

"You are the bulwark against the aggression that is taking place," he added. "We have an obligation to be there ... We're still in, completely, thoroughly."

Biden announced a new assistance package for Ukraine to help restore the country's electrical grid, and offered an apology for the delay in funding for Ukraine as Congress negotiated $60 billion in aid.

Biden put democracy front and center of his 2020 campaign for the White House and is doing so again in his reelection bid, seeking to contrast his foreign policy approach with Trump's "America First" agenda.

His appearance in France comes as he navigates two international conflicts: Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Earlier this week, at Normandy American Cemetery, Biden spoke about the need to work with partners around the globe in safeguarding freedom.

"Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today," Biden said. "Real alliances make us stronger, a lesson that I pray we Americans never forget."

ABC News' Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.