World leaders, including Trump, Macron and May, overlooked the current tensions facing the Anglo world to attend the D-day tribute held in Normandy on the 6th of June 2019. The commemoration marked the 75th anniversary of the landing of allied troops on the shores of Northern France to push back Nazi forces.
Closing in on a century after the landings in Summer of 1944, the Anglo political arena finds itself at a crossroads, albeit a division its leaders are determined to bound. American leader Donald Trump praised the might of Allied veterans in a poignant and poetic speech, staying true to his constructed political rhetoric which secured him the nation’s highest office, “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 our nation. They won the survival of our civilization”. He followed by expressing that the veteran’s “exceptional might came from an exceptional spirit” and moved on to shed light on American achievements – “in the following decades, America secured civil rights and formed a culture sought by millions across the world”.
Contrastingly, France’s Macron was eager to espouse a somewhat political speech, subtly shedding light on current European issues and domestic American regression. Pertinently, Macron encouraged Trump to “live up to the values of the founding fathers; the US is at its’ greatest when it is fighting for the freedom of the others” – illuminating the germination of divisive policies, including Trump feuding with Sadiq Khan (London Mayor), reflecting wider anti-muslim and anti-immigrant American rhetoric. Despite this, Macron concluded his commemoration speech in English – “whatever it takes, we will always stand together because it is our common destiny.”
The commemorations marked liberal and Anglo unity in a pivotal World War. The US and the British Empire – including commonwealth nations (India, Pakistan and other former colonies) – were the sole forces in the Normandy landings, representing fellow allied nations, including France. The efforts culminated in the largest seaborne invasion in history, providing grounds for an eventual victory on the Western front and a preceding Allied-controlled sovereign Germany and 1990 reunification. The efforts of American, British and French leaders is refreshing to witness despite fracturing political rifts, an increasingly complicated Brexit and concerning incubation of far-right movements in Europe. Their speeches and memorials were contemplative of the intertwining values of freedom, liberty and democracy as the foreground of the European Union and Western world.
Perhaps most important of all, amongst the small number of D-day veterans attending the Normandy commemorations and the watchful eye of the media, is the question- which collective route will the present alliance take? As D-day slowly approaches its’ 100th anniversary, will post-war peace pillars of EU and NATO become more faint, symbolising the fading of the European order? Or will the three leaders, amidst a fractured Europe and a regressing US, fulfil the promise of Normandy, that when free people unite, they can conquer any challenge?