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75th Anniversary of D-Day Commemorated in Ceremony; Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) Reflects on D-Day Anniversary. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired June 6, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(AIRPLANES FLYING OVERHEAD)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. You're watching a special edition of NEW DAY as we watch the commemorations of D-Day from Normandy.
[07:00:38] We're watching flyovers. That was just one U.S. C-130, 12 U.S. C-47. There was a whole, as you say, John, from west to East over the water, coming over President Macron, President Trump there and the first ladies. And now they're flying down the axis of the cemetery where there are all of those headstones showing lives lost there on Omaha Beach.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: These are eight U.S. C-130 aircraft flying overhead. And as you look up and see these planes in the sky, imagine what it would have been like 75 years ago on this day, when almost all daylight would have been blotted out by the 12,000 aircraft flying overhead to take part in what was the most complicated and immense amphibious landing of all time.
You can see the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and U.S. President Donald Trump there. As you have been noting, the men seem to be getting along very well today. Their body language very positive, but largely because they give themselves over, I think, to the moment. Because they both acted as if it's not about them at all. It's about the veterans who are there.
As President Trump called them, "The pride of our nation, the glory of our republic." And both leaders at every opportunity, including in their speech and physically, have thanked as many of them in person as they possibly can.
CAMEROTA: And it looked as though the veterans so appreciated that. The 65 who landed there in Normandy and then are back today.
BERMAN: Those are F-15s. Four U.S. F-15s in the missing man formation there.
CAMEROTA: Some of those veterans had not been back. I mean, the youngest are 93 years old, I believe.
BERMAN: Right. If you were 17 or 18 in 1944, do the math.
CAMEROTA: And as we've talked about, some lied about their age, too, so that they could go serve, because this war was obviously so important to freedom everywhere. And so they're at least 93 years old. And some of them have never been back before today on this 75th anniversary of D-Day.
BERMAN: And one of the things President Trump did in his speech -- and the next planes you'll see, I think, are two formations of French aircraft -- is he talked about the different countries and thanked all the different countries, too, that were part of the D-Day invasion.
He mentioned Canada. He mentioned Britain. He mentioned the Norwegians. He mentioned the Poles, and then he mentioned the free French forces. And I think that outreach to the United Nations was so crucial for the European and the worldwide audience to hear. The president talked about working forward together.
CAMEROTA: And of course, he told in his speech the story of some of the heroism. He singled out a couple of veterans. He talked about Ray Lambert, who had been serving with his brother. And they both begged each other to take care of their families. They didn't know -- they really didn't think that they would make it back alive. But they both did, though they were terribly wounded.
BERMAN: And it wasn't until they sort of emerged, woke up wounded, realized they were lying next to each other; and they'd both made it through.
And Russell Pickett, who was of the famed -- part of the famed Company A, he was wounded not just in the D-Day invasion, but once again, when he insisted on going back to fight in France. The president thanked him personally. He rose, I think, to hear the applause, had trouble standing up; and the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, walked over to help him get up. And that, I have to say, put a lump in my throat, to watch the French president help that veteran rise, because the French president knew he owed him personally a debt of gratitude.
CAMEROTA: We want to bring back our team that has been live on the ground for us all morning, covering these really poignant ceremonies. We have Jim Acosta, CNN chief White House correspondent. We also have David Gregory in Washington for us, our CNN political analyst; and Dana Bash, chief political correspondent.
So Jim, since you are there, just tell us your thoughts as you watched this flyover.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was just a remarkable moment. And you have to pinch yourself, being here on the scene of what was just an extraordinary, I think, reminder of the freedom that we all take for granted and how it was won here on this soil 75 years ago.
And when you heard President Trump talk about all of this just a short time ago, you know, it really struck me as one of the more on-moment messages of his presidency.
[07:05:03] Pardon me for turning around. And we have one more flyover behind me. But this was just one of those really on-message moments of his presidency where, you know, he put aside partisan politics, he put aside grievances that he might have with other foreign leaders around the world. He put aside his differences with Emmanuel Macron.
There was no talk about domestic politics or how he views things on the world stage. This was purely, from start to finish, a tribute to the soldiers, the veterans, and the fallen from D-Day 75 years ago. And John was just talking about that moment with Private Pickett. I think that was just a moment that captured everybody's hearts here in Normandy.
Just walking around here on this sacred ground, you know, it is palpable. You feel an energy coming from this place that reminds you of just these enormous sacrifices that were made so many years ago.
And when you saw President Trump paying tribute to Private Pickett and Emmanuel Macron going to his aid during that ceremony, it felt as though Private Pickett was America's private at that moment. And it was just -- it was just a remarkable scene here. to see both of these leaders, who sometimes disagree with each other, and sometimes you see their frosty relations on display.
Just put aside all of that. The politics was just washed aside, put to the side during what was an extraordinary moment as they both recognized the bravery and heroism of these men.
And it sort of reminded me, guys, in a way, of a State of the Union speech in terms of what, you know, the message was that the president delivered here at Normandy. As he was -- he was picking moments and stories to kind of weave together a larger story about the bravery that was on display here. And instead of trying to use those stories to advance a particular policy, this was about advancing a message about bravery, courage and freedom. And I think it was just an extraordinary moment.
Having said all of that, the president has now wrapped up this or he's about to wrap up this trip here to Normandy. He's going to be meeting with the French president later on this afternoon. They'll have a bilateral meeting. And so we may find out that they had some disagreements that they discussed away from the cemetery here.
But at least for this moment this morning, you know, this was, I think, a moment that really rose to the occasion. It was an occasion that could have been spoiled by politics and differences between these two leaders. And that just didn't happen. It was just really, I think, a surprising and encouraging moment for everybody here.
BERMAN: I think Jim brings up a great point. The president brought up the stories of those veterans.
To lay out the events of that day, to carry us through the first hours, the first days of the D-Day invasion, and then told a greater story about freedom and cause.
You're looking at the rouge, blanc and bleu of the French planes flying overhead.
CAMEROTA: Well done.
BERMAN: Really covering the sky. And Dana Bash, again, to the point where the president used these veterans to tell a story, it was a story about freedom and perseverance, not at all a story about him. And that was striking.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all. And I will say that -- John, you and I were texting. And it didn't occur to me that that's why this was so different until you said that to me.
And it is true. This was a speech 100 percent about what it was supposed to be about. The remarkable courage and bravery and foresight of the alliance 75 years ago, of the military -- the moment in the U.S. military and, of course, of the Allies that everybody knew was so fraught and was not entirely clear whether or not it would be successful at all.
And the fact that the president stuck solely to that and did weave a narrative and tell a story and bring everybody who is now, 75 years later, you know, not entirely sure what happened there, back to that time. And everybody now understands that.
And this is also, I will say, you know, capping several days of meetings, both in Great Britain and then, of course, in France where you have had, in a not so subtle way, the leaders there reminding the president about how important alliances are. Everything from the queen giving him gifts about Winston Churchill to -- to other moments. And this capped that. There's no question about that.
And I also just want to bring one other thing just to kind of bring it up to date to modern times. As we speak, as this was happening, what is happening in St. Petersburg, Russia, is the modern, you know, challenges when it comes to alliances.
[07:10:05] The Russian president is hosting the Chinese president, and it is a reminder of how, you know, obviously, things were different. The Russians were on America's side 75 years ago. But it is a reminder of how important the leaders in Europe feel that the modern alliances -- NATO, the E.U. -- are to make sure that there is security up and against today's adversaries like Russia, like China.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, we are watching the first lady with her bouquet of flowers that we assume she's going to go lay at one of the tombstones of the 9,300 tombstones that are there. We see all of these crosses and stars of David. It's obviously a -- really touching visual here to see these leaders in the middle of this grave here at Omaha Beach. There she's laying the flowers.
David, you know, I think that what's so interesting, of course, as we listened to the president's emotional speech today and that of President Macron, is what happens next. You know, we know they're traveling any minute about an hour away to this bilateral meeting. And it's relatively short. Today the president will be heading to Ireland after that.
But just if -- if he does carry this feeling back home to the U.S. with him and if this does end up affecting somehow policy, and foreign policy and his world view.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he does get back to business. The disagreements with modern France and the modern United States will continue.
But when the president spoke about an unbreakable bond, we're reminded of the lessons of history. We're reminded of a French president who was not the French president at the time. He was a leader in exile, Charles de Gaulle, who had a frosty relationship with America. And even after the invasion, you know, would go on to become president and take France out of NATO. Didn't want to be part of NATO.
When Dana and I were last there on Omaha Beach in that very spot in Normandy on Omaha Beach, it was 15 years ago with President Bush, just as President Reagan had fallen ill and ultimately died. And we were in the middle of the Iraq War, and the relationship between the president and President Jacques Chirac of France was -- was so strained because of the Iraq War. But the bond is there. The bond is unbreakable, as the president said. And it overcomes the moment.
Because this, in this beautiful sunlight, as these leaders talk with their spouses, you're reminded that the sacrifice that they are honoring here was by men who believed in something bigger than themselves.
You know, Churchill said of the war effort before D-Day that the goal was to simply persevere. These were the Brits who had survived the blitz, the onslaught of the German military in the blitzkrieg, the bombing of London.
And four years earlier, France had been taken by the Nazis.
But here was this moment of incredible American daring to say, "No, we are going to go into what was called the European Citadel and attack, kind of iron against iron." This is where the Americans and their allies would directly attack the Germans.
And, you know, these images of this beautiful sunlight of a -- of a Normandy early afternoon belie what it was like that morning. It was terrible weather, overcast and rainy and high seas, which imperiled the invasion. And the initial waves of soldiers who are there, whose graves mark this beach, didn't stand a chance. And yet the daring of America and of the west was on display.
And I don't know how you're a leader who doesn't come away from, in the face of that loss and sacrifice, doesn't feel the bond that is somehow bigger than the leaders of the moment.
BERMAN: I think you're exactly right, David. And just think about it. Put yourself back 75 years ago at this moment. The invasion itself would have been eight or nine hours over. Thousands of people would have already been killed. The beach already stained red.
And the president, I think, told that story. He narrated that day through the eyes of the veterans that he listed by name and thanked by name. And Alisyn, I think you did ask an important question, though. As the
president hit this moment in a pitch-perfect way, you asked will he carry that forward in his meetings later today as he continues through Europe, back to Ireland and home to the United States?
And I think, Jim Acosta, we know the answer to that already. We know, and we have seen this president's ability, to a certain extent, to compartmentalize. I mean, he was talking about Bette Midler 36 hours ago. Six hours ago, as he was leaving from Ireland to France, he was being very critical of the Democrats on immigration.
[07:15:06] CAMEROTA: But I will also say this, John. He is also a man who is often struck by --
CAMEROTA: -- the last person that he speaks to.
CAMEROTA: And they have a big influence on him. And moments like this also have a big influence on him. He does get, I think, emotional about heroes and about the bravery displayed. So just hard to know, Jim, if -- how long this feeling will last.
ACOSTA: Yes. I think that's -- I think that's right. And I mean, keep in mind, just before this -- this D-Day ceremony began, the president sat down for an interview with -- with FOX. And so it's possible he got a lot of this red meat out of his system before he took the lectern here and gave these remarks.
But absolutely, you're right, Alisyn and John. The president did put politics aside. He did seem to rise to the moment. And he was listening to those better angels, talking about, you know, the sacrifices that were made as part of an alliance that put the world first, not a particular country first, 75 years ago.
My sense of it is, Alisyn and John, you know, not to be pessimistic about this, as of these children are gathering behind me, you know, just getting back to the point that this message that was on display here is being passed on to new generations. You're seeing evidence of that right behind me at this very moment.
But -- but I think that, obviously, these political differences are going to return to the scene. As you were mentioning just a few moments ago, as the president was leaving Ireland, he was talking about these new tariffs that he wants to place on -- on Mexico in retaliation for what's happening down on the border.
And he was, essentially, exclusively blaming Democrats for the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform when he knows full well, obviously, he's a part of that equation. He stood against providing some kind of path to legalization or citizenship for the DREAMers. That has been an impediment.
And he's completely ignoring the fact that Republicans up on Capitol Hill over the last 48 hours have been sweating bullets that this president is going to impose these tariffs without really talking to them about it first.
And so, you know, he ignored that political reality as he was leaving Ireland about an hour or so before he gave these remarks here at Normandy.
And so, you know, I think if past is prologue, it's very likely we'll go back to things as they were before this moment. But that's maybe, John and Alisyn, what made this moment so special.
ACOSTA: We're so exhausted by the politics of the day right now. But at the very least, we could have a couple of hours in the morning where we can remember real heroes, true bravery, true courage that saved the world.
BERMAN: I think that is what is owed to the men who were there on that stage behind him and the men who are buried in that cemetery right there.
BASH: This was the most traditional we've ever seen President Trump. I mean, hands down. Both in terms of understanding and capturing the moment, not veering from the moment. No improv in that speech. His delivery was solemn, which is appropriate for the moment.
And I agree with Jim. It is, you know -- when David and I were there 15 years ago for the 60th, we had seen particularly post-9/11 President Bush in many presidential moments. We saw President Obama more recently in many presidential moments.
But for Donald Trump, so often in the Rose Garden, in big presidential moments, we see him as Donald Trump, which is how he got there in the first place, mind you. But this was different. And this is why I think everybody is so struck by it. And he moved people. And he did so by understanding exactly what he was supposed to do and not messing with it.
BERMAN: David Gregory, we're watching the leaders now depart. They will head toward a town, Caen, which isn't that far away. It was actually a key point in the progression of Allied forces as they moved throughout France after D-Day. And there, President Trump will meet with Emmanuel Macron, and they will conduct business, actual the business of government here. And it gets much more complicated starting right now, David.
GREGORY: It does because of the divisions, really, about the future of Europe. And I think as we watch the ceremony, one of the things that we have to take in -- and that flyover is just beautiful -- is how much work was done to create a unified Europe after World War II.
The work that the United States did, not just to help rebuild Europe, to unify Europe, but also to rebuild Germany and Japan, America's enemies, and to bring them into the modern world and to a post-war where everyone could share in the might and the economic progression that the world experienced after the war.
[07:20:20] And a lot of divisions have crept up in Europe that test that post-World-War-II order that is being celebrated here.
But I think what's useful about these moments is that it, for any modern leader, they realize that they really stand on the shoulders of their predecessors, who built something that, as the president said, is unbreakable. And they're reminded of what common destiny we shared with our allies in western Europe; and how important that is at a time when, you know, we're moving away from the idea of the post-World-War- II order. There is nationalism throughout Europe again. Some of the ancient hatreds are rising up again. These have to be battled. These have to be contested. And these are what -- what history teaches us.
And of all the things we do in national life, this kind of memory becomes so important, because it teaches a new generation of leaders about the importance of bridging their differences and what the ideal is and how strong the bonds are that they can -- they can deal with major disagreements over the future of Europe, over immigration, over trade, over current war as we saw 15 years ago during the Iraq War. That the bonds are stronger than all those divisions.
BERMAN: I've got to say, very beautifully said. Memory is a very powerful force if we choose to use it.
CAMEROTA: So we'll be watching everything that happens during this bilateral meeting. We'll bring you all of the developments. Our thanks to Jim, and David, and Dana there. It was a very moving morning as we commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. So we will talk to a veteran who serves in Congress, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:26:17] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we remember those who fell, and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization. To more than 170 veterans of the Second World War who join us today, you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President Trump just moments ago, commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. So joining us now, Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Seth Moulton. He is a veteran of the Iraq war.
Congressman, great to have you here on this important day.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be here. CAMEROTA: I know you've been watching all of the celebration and the
president's speech from our green room. So what are your thoughts today?
MOULTON: Well, we're reminded why this is called the greatest generation. A generation that wasn't just there to salute the flag or hug the flag, but to fight for what the flag represents, to fight for our American values.
And, you know, the president talked -- he actually was fairly presidential, for a change. But he talked about unbreakable bonds. It's important to remember that bonds are breakable. You know, one of our most important allies in the Second World War was Russia. And then they became our enemy, our greatest enemy of the last 75 years. So trust among allies matters. Keeping up relationships, keeping up the bonds that we have built over the decades matters. And this president has failed to do that.
BERMAN: You, of course, are a veteran. The president thanked by name some of the veterans, some of the 65 D-Day veterans who were there, in the crowd there. What do you think that moment meant to them? What does it mean to you as a veteran to see that level of gratitude on a day like today?
MOULTON: Well, of course, it's important, because we have to recognize those who have risked their lives so that we can be here in freedom and peace today. But it's also a reminder that the work continues.
I was inspired to join the military in my college church by a minister who talked about the importance of service. His name was Peter Gomes (ph). And he said it's not enough just to believe in service or support others who serve. You've got to go out and do something yourself to give back.
And the quote around the memorial room of that church that actually was built to honor the men who died in World War I, although then they shortly after that had to add the names of hundreds of men and women who died in World War II. It said, "While a bright future beckoned, they freely gave their lives and fondest hopes for us and our allies that we might learn from them the courage in peace to spend our lives making a better world for others."
So we have to honor what these amazing men did on D-Day. But I think they also look to us to do more, to continue on that legacy. And even if we're not in the midst of a generation-defining war like World War II -- although we are in the midst of the longest war in American history -- we have a lot of work to do even just back here in peace to keep up their legacy and to stand up for the values that they fought hard to protect.
CAMEROTA: And so tell us about your idea for LGBT service members.
MOULTON: So this is something that I'm just releasing this week, which is to say that if you were kicked out of the service because you're gay or -- [07:30:00]