Return to Transcripts main page


D-Day Ceremony in Normandy, France; World Leaders Mark 75th Anniversary of D-Day Invasion. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 6, 2019 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of God's hand. And then behind me will tell you that they are just the lucky ones. As one of them recently put it, all the heroes are buried here.

But we know what these men did. We knew how brave they were. They came here and saved freedom. And then they went home and showed us all what freedom is all about.

The American sons and daughters who saw us to victory were no less extraordinary in peace. They built families. They built industries. They built a national culture that inspired the entire world. In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights, revolutionized science, launched a man to the moon and then kept on pushing to new frontiers. And, today, America is stronger than ever before.

Seven decades ago, the warriors of D-Day fought a sinister enemy who spoke of a thousand-year empire. In defeating that evil, they left a legacy that will last not only for a thousand years, but for all time. For as long as the soul knows of duty and honor, for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart, to the men who sit behind me and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old.

Your legend will never die. Your spirit -- brave, unyielding and true -- will never die. The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for a nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.

Today, as we stand together upon this sacred earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together.

Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children and their children will forever and always be free.

May God bless our great veterans. May God bless our allies. May God bless the heroes of D-Day. And may God bless America.

Thank you. Thank you very much. ANNOUNCER: In honor of the (INAUDIBLE) fight, who gave their lives in (INAUDIBLE) the United States, the president of France, and the president of the United States will lay a wreath in their memories followed by a moment of silence.



ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated as President Macron and President Trump greet the World War II veterans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was a deeply moving tribute from President Trump to the veterans of D-Day whom he called the pride of the nation, the glory of our republic. They came here and saved freedom, he said, and went home and taught us what freedom was all about.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He told some very stirring anecdotes about different veterans. Ray Lambert, who is there, Russell Pickett, who is there, and they honored. That and just the bravery and heroism that they exhibited on D-Day, you know, so injured, bleeding, having suffered gunshot wounds and still running into the water to save other troops. And it was just really very touching to watch these men listen to the accolades while they sit in the audience there.

And it's been, of course, interesting to watch President Trump and President Macron together. They are quite demonstrative with each other. There is a lot of hugging of each other and touching of the veterans. There's a lot of the quintessential French double kiss happening. It's a very, very warm ceremony that we've been watching.

BERMAN: And I think if there were people who were wondering what the tone of the speech would be from President Trump, and the tone was very much a moment of respect for the veterans, to honor them on behalf of a nation.

This was a very different speech than you normally hear from President Trump. And I've already heard from a number of people who look at this and say it was one of his finest speeches, one of the more pitch perfect speeches for the moment at hand. And as you said, Alisyn, it wasn't a speech about him at all. It was a speech about the veterans there, the 10,000, you know, 12,000 people in the crowd, the 65 in the audience, as you said, Ray Lambert and Russell Pickett. And one of the most moving moments was when President Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America, was thanking Russell Pickett, who was wounded twice while he was fighting overseas there, Russell Pickett tried to stand up, couldn't do it on his own, so the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, walks over to help that man stand up because Emmanuel Macron knows that he owes his nation to people like Russell Pickett.

[06:40:43] CAMEROTA: Let's bring in our team, who is live on the ground for us there. We have Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international anchor, Jim Bitterman, CNN's senior international anchor -- correspondent, I should say, and Jim Acosta, chief White House correspondent. Christiane, tell us what you heard there.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it was absolutely the perfect speeches from both these presidents on this perfect day. It is the most glorious day. It was meant to be rainy, almost heralding what D-Day itself was like 75 years ago. But, instead, the sun is out and the amount of gratitude and love that is being emanating from frankly both those leaders to the heroes who have made it, and one of whom actually has a hat saying "D-Day survivor."

I mean just to think that they survived that almighty battle when you listen to the stories that the president told of those three veterans, just the minute detail of how unbelievably dangerous it was for each and every one of them, and to see 65 of the D-Day veterans, the Normandy landings, here today to receive the highest accolades from the president and their own commander in chief, Donald Trump, and from the president of France, whose country was liberated and whose liberation then turned the tide of the occupation of this continent by those dreadful Nazi forces, who knew -- there was no way anybody was going to actually defeat them unless they gave it their all.

And that is what was paid tribute today. The entire sacrifice, the cost that they paid that to this day we, who are still -- who are here cannot even imagine the enormous cost, the enormous sacrifice that was -- that was paid by those men who were young men then and who are so old and yet so willing still and who are there taking in the (INAUDIBLE), taking in the gratitude, but still looking themselves so moved.

President Trump called this the altar of our freedom. He said we are here on freedom's altar. And he did, as you say, call the American forces, the American vets the pride and glory of the nation, of the republic. He said that they had fought valiantly in that eternal struggle between good and evil. And he said that they had not only secured the freedom of the world, but also the survival of our civilization. And that was really incredibly moving. And, frankly, it's always moving when these speeches are made in every single anniversary. But when you know that some of these veterans are here for the very first time since they stormed these beaches 75 years ago, and for sure it will likely be the last time for a good many of them, this is an incredibly moving speech.

Macron, for his -- for his part -- and, by the way, President Trump also said very clear things about the alliance. He talked about an unbreakable alliance. Bonds that were forged in the -- in the flames of this fiery battle. It was very important what he said about the strength of the alliance, the birth of the alliance, and the importance of the alliance. And that is what many world leaders, certainly European and NATO leaders will be listening to hear very, very closely.

President Macron, over and over again, thanked the veterans. Said that we understand the debt that we owe America and the debt we owe you. Turned around a couple of times, in English, thanked the veterans who were there, singled out five of them to make them knights of the Legion of Honor, the highest civilian award here in France, and -- and said that he said that we, our generations, would remain worthy of the sacrifice that they made. And, again, pointed out the deep need for this kind of commitment to freedom and democracy, particularly in the hour that these dark forces are once again resurgent in Europe and, in fact, across the Atlantic as well.

This was very, very important messages that were delivered by both presidents and by the presence of those veterans who have secured our future and our presence here today.

BERMAN: What stands out to me, Christiane, is the gratitude that has been shown. And we continue to see before us, as we look at more of these pictures, President Trump going through the crowd, thanking as many people as he can. And the French president, Emmanuel Macron, diving into the crowd practically with a huge smile on his face. And hugs from the French leader, embraces. And you can see President Trump, right there, just saying thank you to as many people as possible.

Jim Acosta, you have heard so many of President Trump's speeches. This one stands out.

[06:45:06] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, John. I think this was perhaps the most on message moment of Donald Trump's presidency today. We were all wondering whether he would veer from his remarks, go off of his script there, but he stayed on script, stayed on message and, I think, rose to the moment.

And as he was talking about those men gathered behind him, he described them as being among the greatest Americans who have ever lived. I mean that -- that could not be more of a fact check true if we could have found one. And it really was one of those moments that I think Donald Trump needed to rise to in order to, I think, walk away from the cemetery, walk away from this hallowed ground and have, you know, people back at home saying, you know what, no matter what I think about the current president of the United States, he said the right thing at Normandy, he did the right thing at Normandy. He really hit all of the right, I think, moments in that speech when he was paying respect to these heroes who were still with us.

And I think what I got a sense of from that speech from President Trump's remarks there, John, is that we're witnessing sort of the end of an era. That the greatest generation is beginning to pass us by. And thank goodness that at that moment, at the -- at this pivotal moment in our history, that both the president of the United States and the president of France, who lately have not been getting along very well with one another, were just hitting all the right notes throughout their remarks.

And it wasn't about these two leaders. That was what was remarkable about this ceremony this morning. It -- it was supposed to be about these men. It was supposed to be about their bravery and it was about their bravery and their courage. And I think we have to be grateful for all of that.

And as Christiane was saying, during the president's remarks he talked about that unbreakable bond that exists between the United States and the alliance that liberated Europe and began to defeat the Nazis during World War II. That is, obviously, going to, I think, put, not to rest, but at ease some of the concerns over here in Europe as to how committed President Trump is to the NATO alliance. There was certainly a lot of the right messaging in that speech that I think a lot of European leaders want to hear.

Now, one thing we should point out, one of the reasons why President Trump was delayed, one of the reasons why he was late getting here, he was sitting down with a Fox News personality before his speech began. And so it's possible he was dishing out a lot of that red meat while he was sitting down with Fox before giving this speech. But, you know, honestly, I think you have to put all of that to the side and recognize that this was just a really captivating, stirring, remarkable moment for the entire world to witness, as politics was just put aside, washed aside as we remember the bravery and courage of these men today.

CAMEROTA: Jim Bitterman, we're watching the leaders and their wives, they're getting ready to make the walk to the Omaha Beach overlook. There will be a 21-gun salute and a flyover once they get there, which, of course, we'll pause for.

But I am curious about, from your vantage point, I mean we've talked about how their -- this relationship has frayed over the past year or so. But today they seem certainly as -- to have genuine affection for each other as they -- as well as for the veterans that we've watched them greeting and hugging and kissing.

Tell me about it from your vantage point.

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think so, Alisyn. I think it was all about the veterans. And I don't think that they really -- either one of these men wanted to go off message much. But I did hear a little, tiny, sort of a hint of something from President Macron, who said, maybe picking up on Donald Trump's make America great again, he said America is never so great than when it's fighting for the freedom of others, when it's fighting for universal values. So I thought, well, you know, that's -- that's maybe a point that Emmanuel Macron was trying to bring up.

But I was surprised, too, at how -- how effusive Donald Trump was in terms of praising the French. He said, this is -- the French had written -- with World War II, had written another chapter in the long history of French valor, something that will resonate here very well because, in fact, I think sometimes the French feel like they're being criticized for the way that they -- forces did not defend the country at the beginning of World War II. And he all -- Donald Trump also called the French strong people, brave and tough, which is not something that you hear all the time from Americans, let alone American presidents.

Alisyn. John.

BERMAN: We're taking in this 21-gun salute right now. We're almost done. Let's listen. [06:50:07] Again, we also expect a short flyover here. And the images

are so powerful. Overlooking Omaha Beach here. This is where so many Americans lost their lives.

Our Jim Acosta, Christiane Amanpour, standing in the U.S. cemetery there where so many of the sons and brothers and husbands have been laid to rest. And it's a site that so many Americans go and visit. And we saw some of them in the ceremony.

And you can see the leaders now walking down the rest of this walkway to the edge. I think they will overlook it very shortly. We will see the flyover.

And in a short time there will be a meeting, a bilateral meeting. The business of government will take place here. President Trump will meet with the French leader, Emmanuel Macron. I think they'll move beyond the events of today to talk about the issues that face these two countries.

CAMEROTA: You know, President Trump also talked about the 9,388 headstones, the white crosses and the stars of David that mark the people who lost their lives there. You know, when you talk about World War II, it's a staggering number of casualties. I mean when -- the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives. And, today, watching those veterans on stage, they seemed just so -- I don't know, I mean, who knows what was going on. But when you see their faces, I could -- it seemed to me that they were aware of the loss and the gratitude, you know, that this ceremony represented today.

BERMAN: President Trump said that the people on the stage, those veterans on the stage would tell you that they are the lucky ones because they made it through. They made it through. And then, for 75 years, as the president said, went home and taught us what freedom was all about.

CAMEROTA: We're going to see a flyover very soon here.


CAMEROTA: We are waiting this ceremony and we're waiting for the flyovers that are about to happen. They're on the overlook of Omaha Beach. We're going to see first I think, John, the French planes in a missing man formation come from the water over that stage where the leaders are. And then, at some point, we'll see four U.S. F-15s also in the missing man formation come over.

[06:55:17] BERMAN: And you know these shows, these military demonstrations are things the president very much likes to see. He relishes in this moment. But today, you know, he's there as a represent of the United States of America on behalf of the United States of America. And he has spoken in gratitude on behalf of the United States of America to the veterans who have gathered there. The 65 U.S. veterans of the D-Day invasion who made it back to Normandy on this day and the president even had a chance to thank some of them by name. CAMEROTA: As did President Macron. And that was one of the most

poignant moments of his speech where he turned to the veterans who made it back there to Normandy and said, quote, we know what we owe to you, veterans, our freedom. On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you.

BERMAN: And he called them the pride of our nation, the glory of our republic.

CAMEROTA: As Christiane has pointed out, it is a picture perfect day there. It was not expected to be so nice. The weather has just really been heaven sent for this moment because it would have been harder, of course, for everyone, including the 90-something-year-old veterans in the audience to sit in the cold rain for a while.

BERMAN: They would have made it, though.


BERMAN: I have a sense they wouldn't have let that stop them.

CAMEROTA: OK, you make a good point, they're hardy, but it's much nicer to be under this landscape.


Just beautiful overlooking that beach.

Again, I think we can see some of the planes in the distance right now. Again, the first planes we will see are the French aircraft. They'll be followed by a succession of U.S. cargo and then fighter aircraft, including some in the missing man formation.

CAMEROTA: There's so many stirring moments, obviously, to these ceremonies, but certainly the flyover is one of them. And then just, of course, hearing the stories of the heroism of some of the veterans that were there today.

Here they come now. Again, as you say, this is the French aircraft. They're coming from the water. They'll go directly over the leaders and over the stage. You can see them in the distance now.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) 30, 12 U.S. C-24s, two P-51s will be flying over those, the American craft that will be coming next.

And just to give you a sense of perspective, as we're watching these few planes fly overhead, on D-Day some 12,000 allied aircraft were involved, 10,000 vehicles, 7,000 ships on the water, including 1,200 warships and 4,000 landing craft.

CAMEROTA: Even here, from thousands of miles away, it's a stirring moment. I mean whenever you're at an air show and, you know, there's the flyover, it sort of, you know, ignites kind of your insides. But even here watching it, it's stirring. BERMAN: It is (INAUDIBLE) and I will note, it is a feat of

coordination as well because the schedule running quite late at this point, about an hour late. So those aircraft, they had to be waiting to cross overhead at exactly the right time.

CAMEROTA: And, of course, we also watched the body language between the leaders because we can't help but watch -- I mean they've had such an interesting relationship. And their body language has always been so close, so demonstrative. And today is no different. They see -- today there seems to be genuine affection, as we've seen in the past, between the spouses, between the leaders. They have had lots of asides, lots of sort of close talking to each other.

BERMAN: Oh, wow, look at this.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Here comes --

BERMAN: This is the U.S. aircraft.


[06:59:34] BERMAN: This is the C-130 and the C-147s, the assortment of U.S. cargo and transport planes flying overhead right now coming from west to east down along an axis of the cemetery. Watch this.