Skip to comments.Remembering Ronald Reagan 10 years after his passing — and the Army Rangers he honored 30 years ago
Posted on 06/06/2014 7:04:37 PM PDT by smoothsailing
June 6, 2014
President Ronald Reagan passed away 10 years ago Thursday. It’s an opportune time to remember his greatest quips and quotations, his greatest speeches, his greatest moments.
But Friday, too, marks an anniversary for Reagan, and most importantly, the country: 30 years since he commemorated the start of the Invasion of Normandy, D-Day, which itself happened 70 years ago.
Reagan’s “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech on the French coast began with a vivid and gracious tribute to the 225 U.S. Army Rangers who scaled the “sheer and desolate cliffs” between Omaha and Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. Their mission was to take out the enemy’s heavy guns, fixed on Allied targets in the area.
“Had we not been there we felt quite sure that those guns would have been put into operation and they would have brought much death and destruction down on our men on the beaches and our ships at sea,” Lt. James Eikner, a Ranger who participated in the effort at Pointe du Hoc, said in Stephen Ambrose’s The Victors.
The address commemorating Eikner and his fellow men was Reagan at his best — the same goes for Peggy Noonan, his speechwriter — and it was a memorial to America’s bravest. It began:
We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. 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 forty 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, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the 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 at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American 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 ninety could still bear arms.
And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war.
The nation he loved basically died with him.
The government of this nation suffers from the same affliction he had in his last days.
At work today, I set the iPod to shuffle play.
What a coincidence that THIS speech was chosen from among the 7000+ offerings.
Whenever I listen to this, or any other speech made by the Gipper, the difference 30 years has made strikes me.
I loved America.
The future beckons.
“The nation he loved basically died with him.”
I think you’re right. How I miss the Gipper.
Even today, many years later, watching a speech by President Reagan brings tears to my eyes. Going to his library is very emotional too. The sheer greatness of this wonderful man cannot be measured.
Ron Dog was the man! I cry every time I hear his voice, we will never see another like him in our lifetime.
Amen my FRiend!
Alas and Amen.
Thank you for this post.
Proof a President can get through a speech without using the word I.
Yes, sadly it does.
You and me both Paulie.
Where is the contemporary man that loves this nation as much as he did?
While we have good people, none of them appeal to me on that point like he did.
I’m not trying to put anyone down here. It’s just my overall take on things.
No reason to despair! There are plenty of folks who still value liberty and conservative values. Unfortunately we are spread over too much territory to be effective. There are some good plans to remedy that. My tag line has one.
I still see the possibility of a shining city on a hill. Just a matter of building it with like minded people in a place where it will be treasured.
As for the other folks who want to live in a workers paradise, they can go their own way. Or to hell for all I care.
The Pointe from afar:
This nation’s government suffers not from Alzheimer’s Disease; this nation’s government suffers from a virulently-malignant, metastasizing brain tumor.
I understand what drives your plan. I can sympathize with it.
I still don’t think it’s a good idea to surrender land to the enemy.
Little seeds from acorns grow. What if there are no seeds?
If this were a physical war, we wouldn’t concede ground for long. I don’t think we should do it in non war situations either.
Pretty soon we’d have one or two good states. Doesn’t seem like a winner to me.
Laughs at self...
Mighty oaks from acorns grow! What if there were no acorns.