Democracies of the world must again stand firm against aggression and tyranny and uphold the spirit of D-Day, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III during remarks today at Normandy American Cemetery in France, where veterans and world leaders gathered to mark the 80th anniversary of World War II’s D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

“Let us again uphold the spirit of D-Day. Let us again defend the principles that the Allied armies carried. And let us again thank the heroes of D-Day who kept freedom alive for us all,” Austin said. 

“If the troops of the world’s democracies could risk their lives for freedom, then surely the citizens of the world’s democracies can risk our comfort for freedom now,” Austin said. 

Democracies must rally again to defend the open, postwar world of rules, rights and responsibilities, he said. 

“Those rules protect us. Those rights define us. And those responsibilities summon us once more,” the secretary said. 

The United States and its allies built a peace out of war, he said, a peace forged by the generation that won the bloodiest war in human history. 

“Our gratitude must never fade. Our memories must never dim. And our resolve must never fail,” Austin said. 

“We still seek a world where aggression is a sin, where human rights are sacred, and where all people can live in freedom. You saved the world. We must only defend it,” he said of the World War II heroes. 

President Joe Biden noted that the troops on D-Day and elsewhere during World War II were not just Americans, they were Allies. 

“Real alliances make us stronger. A lesson that I pray we Americans never forget. Together we won the war. We rebuilt Europe, including our former enemies,” he said. “We established NATO, the greatest military alliance in the history of the world.” 

NATO is more united than ever and even more prepared to keep the peace, deter aggression, and defend freedom all around the world, he said. 

“America has invested in our alliances and forged new ones, not simply out of altruism, but out of our own self-interest, as well. America’s unique ability to bring countries together is an undeniable source of our strength and our power. Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today,” the president said. 

“Democracy is never guaranteed. Every generation must preserve it, defend it and fight for it. That’s the test of the ages. In memory of those who fought here, died here, literally saved the world here, let us be worthy of their sacrifice. Let us be the generation that when history is written about our time … it will be said when the moment came, we met the moment, we stood strong, our alliances were made stronger. We saved democracy,” he said.

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