Normandy, France – In a somber anniversary ceremony marking the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pointed out several parallels between that historic event and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Speaking to a small gathering of veterans and local officials, Austin said that both events were sparked by aggression and territorial ambitions of malign actors, and both required a coordinated effort by a diverse group of nations to push back against that aggression.
“This is a day to remember the sacrifices of those who stormed the beaches of Normandy and to honor their memory,” Austin said. “But it’s also a day to recognize that those same values – freedom, democracy, and the rule of law – continue to be threatened by those who seek to bend the world to their will through force.”
Austin’s comments came as several dozen World War II veterans returned to Normandy for the anniversary. Many of them said that while the world has changed in countless ways since they took part in the invasion, the need for countries to work together to protect those values remains the same.
“Back then we were fighting against a very different kind of enemy, but the principles were the same,” said 98-year-old veteran Frank Weller. “We were fighting for something bigger than ourselves, for the good of our country and the world. I see that same spirit in the people who are fighting today.”
The Department of Defense also released a statement praising the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part in the invasion, noting that they “changed the course of history and set the stage for a better, more peaceful world.”
Meanwhile, the Deseret News published an article reflecting on what it must have been like for those who lived through the invasion, and the Baltimore Sun ran a “Reader Commentary” piece in which several family members of veterans reflected on the legacy of sacrifice and service that has been passed down through the generations.
Overall, the anniversary served as both a moment of solemn remembrance and a call to action for countries around the world to remain vigilant against the forces of tyranny and aggression.