by MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Trump gave one of the best speeches of his presidency while many Americans were brushing their teeth. His remarks at the seventy-fifth commemoration of D-Day at the Normandy American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, were gracious, moving, poetic, and delivered in a time zone six hours ahead of the East Coast.
Which is too bad. The address deserves a wide audience not only for its content but also because it fits into the larger themes of this presidency. Speaking from what he described as "Freedom's Altar," Donald Trump once again made the case for reviving America's national spirit, sovereignty, and strength.
What makes Trump's language unique is his emphasis on nations. Trump catalogued the Allies who fought the Nazis at Normandy. He noted the "nobility and fortitude" of the British people and "the full grandeur of British pride." He acknowledged the "sense of honor and loyalty" of the Canadians. He recognized "the fighting Poles, the tough Norwegians, and the intrepid Aussies." He saluted "the gallant French commandos, soon to be met by thousands of their brave countrymen ready to write a new chapter in the long history of French valor."
Trump's most stirring words, of course, were dedicated to the American people. "They came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities, and the forges of mighty industrial towns." The Americans who fought in World War II, and who charged Omaha beach, "ran through the fires of hell moved by a force no weapon could destroy: the fierce patriotism of a free, proud, and sovereign people. They battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy, and self-rule."
As he did in his 2017 address to the people of Poland, Trump connects heroism and valor to nationhood and religious feeling. "The exceptional might came from a truly exceptional spirit," he said at Normandy. "The abundance of courage came from an abundance of faith. The great deeds of an Army came from the great depths of their love."
In the Warsaw speech, he said, "Through four decades of communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity—indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit."
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