Jun 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Biden marks 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy

President Biden shaking the hand of a U.S. World War II veteran at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on May 6.

President Biden shaking the hand of a U.S. World War II veteran at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden opened his speech commemorating D-Day by saluting World War II veterans, who he said "who met the test of ages that moment 80 years ago" on Thursday.

Why it matters: With the median age of World War II soldiers being 98 years old, Thursday's anniversary could be the last decennial commemoration of the largest amphibious assault in history with a significant number of veterans in attendance.

What they're saying: "Here, the coast of Normandy, the battle between freedom and tyranny would be joined. Here, on that June morning, the testing was at hand," Biden said.

  • "On behalf of the American people, and as commander in chief, it's the highest honor to be able to salute you here in Normandy once more."

The big picture: Biden used his speech to speak on the status of the world, saying the "dark forces" WWII veterans fought against "never fade."

  • "Aggression and greed, the desire to dominate and control, to change borders by force. These are perennial. And the struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending."
  • "Here in Europe, we see one stark example: Ukraine has been invaded by a tyrant bent on domination. Ukrainians are fighting with extraordinary courage, suffering great losses, but never backing down," Biden said, adding that 350,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded.

Zoom in: Biden pledged to "never walk away" from Ukraine, warning that the "autocrats around the world are watching."

  • "If we do that, it means Ukraine will be subjugated, and it will not end there. Ukraine's neighbors will be threatened. All of Europe will be threatened," he said.
  • "We can not let that happen. To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable. Were we to do that, it means we would be forgetting what happened here on these hallowed beaches."

Zoom out: Biden, too, noted the importance of alliances like NATO, saying they stemmed from lessons from WWII.

  • "What the allies did 80 years ago far surpassed anything we could have done on our own. It was a powerful illustration of how alliances — real alliances — make us stronger, a lesson I pray Americans never forget."

In photos:

102-year-old World War 2 veteran Gene Kleindl (left) from Rockford, Illinois, greeting visitors and re-enactors at the Normandy American Cemetery on June 04, 2024, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
102-year-old World War 2 veteran Gene Kleindl (left) from Rockford, Illinois, greeting visitors and re-enactors at the Normandy American Cemetery on June 4, 2024, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
 Paratroopers from the British, Belgian, Canadian and U.S. military paradropping into in the fields of Sannerville, France, on June 05.
Paratroopers from the British, Belgian, Canadian and U.S. military paradropping into in the fields of Sannerville, France, on June 5. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
 U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Knapp kneeling at the grave of a U.S. soldier killed in combat on D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery on June 4 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Knapp kneeling at the grave of a U.S. soldier killed in combat on D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery on June 4 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet U.S. World War II veterans on June 6, 2024, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet U.S. World War II veterans on June 6, 2024, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Enthusiasts wearing replica WWII military attire atop a Sherman tank in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, on June 4.
Enthusiasts wearing replica WWII military attire atop a Sherman tank in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, on June 4.
Members of the French Navy rehearse an amphibious assault landing on Omaha Beac on June 4 in Vierville-sur-Mer, France.
Members of the French Navy rehearse an amphibious assault landing on Omaha Beac on June 4 in Vierville-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
 Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft overfly flags on "Pointe du Hoc" clifftop in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, France, on June 5.
Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft overfly flags on "Pointe du Hoc" clifftop in Cricqueville-en-Bessin, France, on June 5. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
Britain's King Charles III, Britain's Queen Camilla, France's President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at a memorial near Ver-sur-Mer, France, on June 6.
Britain's King Charles III, Britain's Queen Camilla, France's President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at a memorial near Ver-sur-Mer, France, on June 6. Photo: Gareth Fuller/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Part of the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, France, near Omaha beach on June 5.
Part of the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, France, near Omaha beach on June 5. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images
U.S WWII veterans attending the D-Day commemoration ceremony in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6.
U.S WWII veterans attending the D-Day commemoration ceremony in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on June 6. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
RAF veteran Bernard Morgan, 100, from Crewe, England, visiting the graves at Bayeux cemetery on June 5.
RAF veteran Bernard Morgan, 100, from Crewe, England, visiting the graves at Bayeux cemetery on June 5. Photo: Aaron Chown - Pool/Getty Images

Go deeper ... Exclusive: ABC's David Muir to interview Biden Thursday in Normandy

Go deeper