D-Day visit Anniversary of June 6, 1944
View this inspiring Reagan Speech commemorating 40th anniversary of D-Day Invasion at Normandy
Rush Limbaugh Radio Show
So we stopped in three places, touring D-Day locations, and we just barely scratched the surface. The primary location, Omaha Beach, is where they do the annual anniversary celebrations, but Omaha Beach is huge. Then there was Juno Beach further down, and then Utah Beach. D-Day was a giant, giant act of great deception on the part of Eisenhower. The Germans were entirely faked out — and it’s a good thing, because even being faked out, D-Day was a deadly event.
I couldn’t help while walking the beach at Omaha Beach… We went down to Pointe du Hoc, and gosh, the American Cemetery… I’d seen pictures. You have no idea. It’s like most other things: You have no appreciation for it ’til you’re really there. It’s sobering, folks, and then it’s 69 years ago. And the whole time we’re walking the beach in these locations, I kept having a thought running around in my mind:
“How many Americans even know anymore outside of ‘Saving Private Ryan’? How many would even be impressed, if you could take them there and show them the serene place that it is today and say, ‘Guess what happened here 69 years ago. Try to envision 200,000 Americans in oceangoing craft storming this beach, climbing these hills with German gun encampments all over the place mowing ’em down.'”
I can’t tell you why, but the whole D-Day invasion, particularly Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc, have mesmerized me. I’ve been immersed in them, and I’ve learned so much just in the last number of years as celebrations have taken place, things I didn’t know when I thought I knew it all. A grand act of deception. The Germans weren’t sure where in Normandy, all along the northern coast of France, the Allied invasion was going to take place. They weren’t sure when. It was a tremendous — without getting into great detail in this, Eisenhower and his command had done a terrific job in deception building fake installations along the beach to indicate they were coming there, or training in fake locations.
The Germans even suspected that the invasion might hit Norway and not France. The deception was so good that the German commander Rommel wasn’t even on site on D-Day. He was taking a couple days off. I think it was his anniversary. He was with his wife in Paris or back in Germany or something, and he had a phone call early in the morning, “Guess what, General? We’re under assault here.” And even with that act of deception, the number of Americans who were killed, Allied forces killed, is stunning. Two hundred thousand, part of the invasion all along the north coast of France, and its importance, that and the Battle of the Bulge, I mean, crucial to stopping what was happening in Europe and preserving Europe and the rest of the world for freedom.
But these Americans along Omaha, all the way down, Juno Beach, Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, they were sitting ducks. German installations were high up on the hills. There were bombing runs. In the case of Pointe du Hoc, I think the 9th Army Air Force was launching bombing runs and the number of seagoing efforts to assist in the ground assault which was conducted by the Rangers 2nd Battalion.
Now, this was my first time at Pointe du Hoc. I’d been to this place in my mind but I’d never seen it other than in pictures. It’s a hundred plus feet straight up. The Rangers land on the beach, ships launch ladders and other things on the sides of the cliff to assist the Rangers in climbing up. The Germans are shooting down on them, and the Rangers just kept going. Big guns, 155 millimeter guns were up there. They just kept climbing even as the Germans were mowing them down.
Now, one thing, the Germans, because of deception, thought that Utah Beach was gonna be the focus and they had moved many of the gun installations at Pointe du Hoc a mile west of Pointe du Hoc. They still had some guns but the big guns had been moved on the orders of Rommel. Interestingly, the Ranger rank-and-file landing on the beach and climbing the cliff, they were not told. The Ranger leadership knew that the guns had been moved, but the Ranger rank-and-file had not been told. It was part of motivation. They had to climb. They had to get that hill. They had to get those installations, whether the Germans were in them or not. They had to shut all that down, all the way up and down the beach. They had to secure that area. And they did. And in a couple of months they’re into Paris and then the Germans are beaten back.
But to see it, folks, so pristine and peaceful now, and to see what these Americans did, climbing straight up those cliffs with ropes, makeshift ladders, with the Germans firing down on them, even though the bulk of the guns had been moved, there was still German small arms fire that was raining down on them, enough to kill them, and a lot were killed. That location I think was one of Ronald Reagan’s greatest ever speeches as president, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc. He gave that speech on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day.
And then we went to the cemetery, the American cemetery at Normandy. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and it’s one of the quietest, one of the most sobering places. Every tombstone, every cross is geometrically perfect, no matter what angle, no matter what line you view these crosses, they are in perfect alignment, no matter what angle. And they go on and on, there are 10,000 more. This week is the sixty-ninth anniversary. They’ll do something big next year for the seventieth. But it’s just another reminder for us about the greatness of the US military and the people. They’re all volunteers back then, too. Not all, but quite a few. And the Rangers, equivalent of the Special Forces in their own way. You can’t go there and have any knowledge at all of what happened to not be in awe of what happened, and you can’t go there and not just be thankful.
And I’m telling you as you get older, at least for me, getting older, I become more and more in awe and in appreciation. The appreciation just increases and increases for what people did. And then you see the names on the crosses in the cemetery, and you see 18 to 28-year-olds, 10,000 of them. They used to be alive, ’til that day or the day of their death, it runs the gamut in that cemetery, but it’s still quite a sobering thought. So I just wanted to share with you the really momentous time that it was. Omaha Beach is huge. And the entire beaches, Normandy, are huge, I mean, from the water line to the cliffs and so forth. So that was a large part. It was the whole day one day, and then the rest of the time we were in places where nobody knew who we were. It was awesome. Okay, thank you for indulging me in that. I love sharing these trips and these instances. You know me. I love sharing my passions.
Now, that Ranger force that arrived at Pointe du Hoc/Pointe du Hoc. Sixty percent of those people were killed.
Sixty percent of the 2nd Ranger Battalion was killed. Even though the guns had been moved, they had to take that hill. Even though the big guns had been moved a mile west down toward Utah Beach, they had to take those hills. Because anybody sympathetic to the Germans could have occupied those installations and fired down on the beach. So 60% of the arriving force died. Sixty percent of the attack force of the Rangers was killed.
That speech that Reagan gave there on the fortieth anniversary where he met some survivors who were still alive back in the eighties, he kept talking about, “These are the Boys of Pointe du Hoc,” or Pointe du Hoc. I forget how he pronounced it that day. But it was one of his best speeches. They had to take those hills. It was a crucial operation.