Mr Clinton, with his wife, Hillary, General George Joulan and Ranger Len Lamell, and with the USS Normandy in the background, told veterans their sacrifices would not be lost on the post-war generations. 'We commit ourselves, as you did, to keep the lamp burning for those who will follow. You completed your mission here. But the mission of freedom goes on; the battle continues. The longest day is not yet over.'
In blustery drizzle at the top of the sheer cliff scaled by the US Rangers under German fire at dawn on June 6, 1944, Mr Clinton, America's first president to be born after the Second World War, went on: 'We are the children of your sacrifice. We are the sons and daughters that you saved from tyranny.' The President then walked to the edge of the cliff to lay a wreath with the daughters of Ranger commander James Rudder, who led the assault.
Mr Clinton then joined President Mitterrand at Utah Beach, where the first US troops waded ashore at the start of D-Day and where more than 2,400 Americans were killed or wounded in the bloodiest fighting of the landings, for an emotional wreath-laying ceremony. The two leaders took a 21-gun salute in the presence of thousands of veterans and their families.
The French army chaplain, Bishop Michel Dubost, told the ceremony: 'Each wave of the sea reminds us of these young men who came from elsewhere to reconquer our liberty. Each breath of the wind tells us 'do not forget'.'
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