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Let us pause to remember President Reagan’s never-to-be forgotten “boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech delivered on the 40th anniversary of D-Day

by | Jun 6, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

I’m a man who has greatly admired President Ronald Reagan for over 40 years, so it might seem strange [in retrospect, it does to me!] that it was not until around 2020 that I watched President Reagan deliver his famous “boys of Pointe du Hoc” on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

What most of know of June 6, 1944, is primarily what we saw in “Saving Private Ryan.” It is only to state the obvious that  you can’t capture the bravery of these men in words or film. There are an unknown number of World War II veterans alive today, but their number is dwindling by the day. “Today, there is believed to be only one Ranger who fought at Pointe du Hoc still alive.”

“Of the 4,414 Allied troops killed on D-Day, 2,501 were Americans. More than 5,000 were wounded,” Taylor DeLandro wrote for The Hill. 

The D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France was unprecedented in scale and audacity, using the largest-ever armada of ships, troops, planes and vehicles to punch a hole in Adolf Hitler’s defenses in western Europe and change the course of World War II.”

Five years ago, Michael E. Ruane wrote a memorable piece for the Washington Post. It began

It was spring 1984. President Ronald Reagan stood on a craggy piece of land jutting into the English Channel, where 40 years before, American soldiers had scaled the heights on D-Day, June 6, 1944, during the allied landings at Normandy.

 

Sitting before him were 62 of the “boys,” now-middle aged men who had climbed the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, using ropes, grappling hooks and ladders to reach a suspected German gun emplacement 100 feet up.

 

They were boys no more, and even on the that stormy morning in 1944, they were more a group of rugged characters than youths.

“It was an emotional experience for everyone,” Ronald Reagan wrote in his diary on June 6, 1984, about his trip to Pointe du Hoc.” There “he delivered one of the most famous speeches of his presidency and met with 62 surviving Army Rangers who had scaled the 100-foot cliffs under fire from Germans,” according to Philip Klein.

“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc,” Reagan said. “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.”

President Reagan ended his very brief, 9:15 speech–which you can watch here–with these words which ring as true today as they did 40 years ago:

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

 

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

 

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

 

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.”

Categories: Life