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Twenty Years Ago Today - President Reagan At Omaha Beach
The Reagan Home Page ^ | June 6, 1984 | President Ronald Reagan

Posted on 06/06/2004 10:03:12 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez

We stand today at a place of battle, one that 40 years ago saw and felt the worst of war. Men bled and died here for a few feet of - or inches of sand, as bullets and shellfire cut through their ranks. About them, General Omar Bradley later said, "Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero."

Some who survived the battle of June 6, 1944, are here today. Others who hoped to return never did.

"Someday, Lis, I'll go back," said Private First Class Peter Robert Zannata, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, and first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach. "I'll go back, and I'll see it all again. I'll see the beach, the barricades, and the graves."

Those words of Private Zanatta come to us from his daughter, Lisa Zanatta Henn, in a heart-rending story about the event her father spoke of so often. "In his words, the Normandy invasion would change his life forever," she said. She tells some of his stories of World War II but says of her father, "the story to end all stories was D-Day."

"He made me feel the fear of being on the boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the sea sickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers' faces-the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death."

Private Zannata's daughter wrote to me, "I don't know how or why I can feel this emptiness, this fear, or this determination, but I do. Maybe it's the bond I had with my father. All I know is that it brings tears to my eyes to think about my father as a 20-year old boy having to face that beach."

The anniversary of D-Day was always special to her family. And like all the families of those who went to war, she describes how she came to realize her own father's survival was a miracle: "So many men died. I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, `You did what you had to do, and you kept on going."

When men like Private Zannata and all our Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongfully seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to bee free again.

We salute them today. But, Mr. President [Francois Mitterand of France], we also salute those who, like yourself, were already engaging the enemy inside your beloved country-the French Resistance. Your valiant struggle for France did so much to cripple the enemy and spur the advance of the armies of liberation. The French Forces of the Interior will forever personify courage and national spirit. They will be a timeless inspiration to all who are free and to all who would be free.

Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic people who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace.

From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the post-war world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.

Today, the living here assembled-officials, veterans, citizens-are a tribute to what was achieved here 40 years ago. This land is secure. We are free. These things are worth fighting and dying for.

Lisa Zannata Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: "I'm going there, Dad, and I'll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I'll see the graves, and I'll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let any one else forget. And, Dad, I'll always be proud."

Through the words of his loving daughter, who is here with us today, a D-Day veteran has shown us the meaning of this day far better than any President can. It is enough to say about Private Zannata and all the men of honor and courage who fought beside him four decades ago: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

Thank you.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 19440606; dday; reagan; ronaldreagan; ronaldusmagnus; ronaldwilsonreagan

"We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free." -- President Ronald Wilson Reagan

1 posted on 06/06/2004 10:03:14 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Luis Gonzalez
"Courage" - Margaret Thatcher's thoughts on Ronald Reagan
2 posted on 06/06/2004 10:09:16 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Sin Pátria, pero sin amo.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
A Shining City on a Hill: A Tribute to Ronald Reagan -- FReeper William Wallace
3 posted on 06/06/2004 10:11:36 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Sin Pátria, pero sin amo.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez


4 posted on 06/06/2004 10:12:25 AM PDT by cyborg
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Posted on 02/18/2001 07:44:22 PST by Luis Gonzalez

The Thing About Heroes.

I have this thing about having heroes. But I guess most people do.

I would imagine that everyone needs them in their lives, it seems to me that it would be somewhat sad not to have a hero or two ... or more.

There was the Duke, first and always the Duke. There were characters out of the few books my father would find in a society that burned books and banned ideas, and from the old black and white movies still shown on TV. There was Ivanhoe and his love Rowena who taught me the meaning of chivalry; the roguish, smirking knave who accepted me into his band of Merry Men and will forever suspiciously resemble Errol Flynn and never, ever Kevin Costner; the hawkish, dark and brooding genius to whom everything was simply "elementary" to the amazement of the faithful Dr. Watson. These were the heroes of my youth.

But boys grow into men, and the heroes of childhood take their place in the shelves of youthful memories, tucked away in the far recesses of the mind. Old and well-worn friends of days gone by we see them for what they are, flights of fancy in a young boy's dreams.

When asked to name our heroes, and being good sons and daughters of good and loving parents, most of us will reply: my father, my mother or both, I think that's a given. It certainly holds true for me, I owe more than most to mine; they gave it all up to afford me the opportunity to grow up free, they paid for that opportunity with hard work and love. The young couple who started a new life for themselves and their two young children with a hundred dollars and a dream are my heroes, and they're older now, but not in my eyes. In my eyes, they are eternal and unchanging like a picture that will not fade with time.

That's another thing about heroes. When we think about them, they are the same today as they were the day they became larger than life. The football player who made the catch deemed to be immaculate, the Yankee man of iron who in the face of death proclaimed himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth, the guy who never left your side, even when the bullets were really flying; distinctive images forever burned into our minds, images which will never change.

I have lots of heroes, I guess. The writers and actors and musicians who have both influenced and delighted me by their talent, the athletes who have inspired and amazed me with their God-given abilities; the ordinary people who showed me the strength of the human spirit. We know these people as heroes too; the quiet black woman who refused to stand when seating was readily available, the man who stood down a column of iron monsters with nothing but paper grocery bags in his hands; the men and women in uniforms of every color who have given their lives in the defense of the country, and those who wear them today, ready to do the same. The teacher who refuses to believe that a child is unreachable, the doctors who leave their comfortable offices and fly into the heart of poverty in the name of humanity.

Most of all, I admire the visionaries. The people who dare to dream and tell us that dreams are achievable if we are willing to work hard and persevere. The people who envision a world were the sun is always rising on a better tomorrow, who see morning again after the darkest of nights. Let me tell you about one of my heroes. The only one that will ever come close to that place held by the man and woman who gave me life and liberty.

My hero was born in a humble home. That seems to be a prevailing theme running through the lives of heroes, childhood's which didn't telegraph the greatness to come. He played football and baseball and held summer jobs while growing up in a typical American home, in a typical American town.

This is the stuff heroes are made of, the stuff America is made of. Small towns and football games and Fourth of July picnics; summer forays to the local swimming hole, sweethearts' dances and Church bake sales. These are the towns that form American heroes, they kindle the fire that tempers American steel, and they give birth to giants.

If there's a word to describe this hero of mine, that word would have to be "giant." I close my eyes to picture him and he seems to tower above. He dominated and shone with the pristine light of the newly-born sun on a clear, spring morning. He stood on the edge of the dawn leading the way to a vision of a better America, and made me believe that what had always been the best about America still was, that we were what was best about America.

You see, he made me believe in myself. He made me believe that the vision of a shining city on a hill was not flight of fancy, but rather an achievable reality. He made me want to lead and not follow.

This giant, this hero of heroes awakened the dormant fire of traditional values in my heart. He set them ablaze with his vision, and with his words he conquered a nation. No one articulated the vision of a glorious future better than he did, I have never known a better communicator and may never know one again.

Some call him "the Gipper," some call him "Dutch," those closest to him call him Ronnie. They all love him as intensely. He is older now, and ravaged by cruel illnesses; they say that the great communicator is trapped in a vault of silence, and that he is weak and frail. But not in my eyes and not in my heart.

There, in my memory, Ronald Reagan stands tall and firm, one hand raised to the sky and one holding Nancy's; and with the Stars and Stripes flying proudly behind him, he tells me once more that "It's morning again in America" and by God, I believe him. He will always be the American Joshua who brought down the evil walls of an evil empire in the name of Freedom. He is still today, the man that gave wings to the dream of an America unchallenged during the darkest of times. He saw that rainbow shining down on that city on a hill and dared us to follow it, and behind him, we marched into the future unconcerned and unafraid.

He is today, as he will always be simply "Mr. President", and he is a hero to me. Eternal and unchanging like a picture that will not fade with time.

I guess that's the thing about heroes, time can't stand up to them.

Farewell Mr. President, I still believe in the dream.

5 posted on 06/06/2004 10:15:51 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Sin Pátria, pero sin amo.)
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To: cyborg


6 posted on 06/06/2004 10:16:09 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez (Sin Pátria, pero sin amo.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

I wish he could have been president for the last twenty years of this decade. There were so many issues that if he was in charge, this world would be different. Oh well... the biggest one was communism IMHO so I'm happy. BTW, I bumped the thread because some radio station just finished playing that same speech. Makes me want to cry.

7 posted on 06/06/2004 10:20:45 AM PDT by cyborg
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Thank you, Luis. Yours is one of the most noble tributes to a man for whom so few realize the significance of his life's work and how he loved this nation and its people.

8 posted on 06/06/2004 10:44:26 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez; William Wallace

WW's tribute in 2001 is perhaps one of the most concise yet thorough tributes to President Reagan ... and so very well written, too! Thanks for linking it so that I could once again read the stirring words listing most of the accomplishments of President Reagan. The intangibles though are what reverberate in my heart and prod me to continue the struggle to accomplish for this nation the many goals he had for US. Each of us conservatives, in our small way, may continue the work President Reagan set out to accomplish.

9 posted on 06/06/2004 10:53:16 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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Clinton will be a footnote in history compared to this presidental giant.

10 posted on 06/06/2004 10:55:10 AM PDT by cyborg
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To: cyborg

I wonder, m'Lady. I wonder if the democrat voters will someday awaken to the treachery and corruption of clinton and his minions, or will they just continue to irrationally name him as one of our greatest presidents merely because he got out of the way of business to allow the level of prosperity we enjoyed during his degenerate years as president? It was a false bubble which clinton rode, with the ghostly stock growth in tech companies. Will democrat voters ever realize and admit that it was the clinton lack of meaningful response to terrorists that emboldened Osama and hardened Saddam and Iran? Even now democrat voters are manipulated and herded, as clinton makes a disgrace of himself and the democrat party by shamelessly continuing to smear and deceive regarding the sitting president, all because the lust for power and clinton's mental illness which requires adoration.

11 posted on 06/06/2004 11:05:08 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Please go to the FR Reagan Vigil thread and pledge to organize/attend a vigil for Ronald Reagan in your area!

12 posted on 06/06/2004 11:07:42 AM PDT by Bob J ( them out!)
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I'm having a little 'friendly' back and forth on craigslist about Ron Reagan and Bill Clinton. Clinton sure had some good juju. He worked that spell on a lot of people because a lot of people STILL worship at his feet.

13 posted on 06/06/2004 11:08:24 AM PDT by cyborg
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To: cyborg

It's a shame that so many of Clinton's followers choose to worship him while on their knees -- and while he's holding a cigar.

14 posted on 06/06/2004 1:49:25 PM PDT by AlaninSA
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