President Reagan salutes “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc” after his speech.
“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.
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 US Army Rangers jumped off their 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 Allied advance.
The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers on the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the 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 two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.”
- from “The Boys of Point du Hoc,” speech by President Reagan at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy 1984
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