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Joe Biden makes stirring speech comparing D-Day heroics to Ukrainian sacrifices

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US President Joe Biden made a stirring speech comparing the heroics of D-Day to the sacrifices being made in Ukraine.

As world leaders gathered to remember those who helped liberate Europe from tyranny, he insisted global democracy was once again at risk.

World leaders gathered to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944

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World leaders gathered to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944Credit: EPA
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was one of the many leaders watching the speech

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was one of the many leaders watching the speechCredit: Rex

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was among those watching as Mr Biden declared: “To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable.

“To do that would mean forgetting what happened on these beaches. We will not bow down.”

Mr Biden was also joined at Omaha Beach in northern France by his wife Jill, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prince Albert of Monaco, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Australia’s governor-general David Hurley and his wife Linda, and Prince William were also in attendance.

Speaking near to where 9,388 members of the US military who took part in the landings are buried, Mr Biden said D-Day showed the need for international alliances and vowed never to abandon Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

He added: “We’re living in a time when democracy is more at risk across the world than at any point since the end of World War Two.

“Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today. Real alliances make us stronger — a lesson that I pray we Americans never forget.”

Mr Biden also vowed that under his leadership, the US “will not walk away” from Ukraine “because if we do, Ukraine will be subjugated and it will not end there”.

He said “Ukraine’s neighbours will be threatened, all of Europe will be threatened” and described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “tyrant bent on domination”.

Mr Biden went on to hail the efforts of the “noble band of brothers” who participated in the D-Day landings, saying “the men who fought here were heroes”.

He said: “They knew — beyond any doubt — there are things that are worth fighting and dying for.

Atmosphere in Normandy for D-Day celebrations where first house was liberated in France

“Freedom is worth it. Democracy is worth it. America is worth it. The world is worth it.”

Mr Zelensky later wrote on X: “This event and day serve as a reminder of the courage and determination demonstrated in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.

“Allies defended Europe’s freedom then and Ukrainians do so now.

“Unity prevailed then, and true unity can prevail today.”

Kyiv has been pushing Europe to increase military support as Russia has been making battlefield gains.

Arriving at the ceremony, Mr Zelensky shook hands with veterans in wheelchairs.

Canadian PM Mr Trudeau also said democracy was “threatened by aggressors who want to redraw borders”.

He told a ceremony remembering the 381 Canadian troops who died storming Juno Beach in 1944: “Our way of life did not happen by accident.”

Guests of honour yesterday were some 180 surviving US veterans aged in their late 90s or over 100.

Mr Macron awarded a dozen of them France’s highest honour, the Legion d’Honneur.

British veteran Cecil Newton, 100, said he was upset so many young men died during Operation Overlord.

He added: “All those who were in action will always be with me, with us. I can see them now.”

Representatives from the UK, USA, Germany, Australia, Monaco, Poland and France all attended but no Russian officials were invited

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Representatives from the UK, USA, Germany, Australia, Monaco, Poland and France all attended but no Russian officials were invitedCredit: EPA

No Russian official was invited to the commemorations, underlining Moscow’s pariah status despite the decisive Soviet contribution to defeating the Nazis.

During a meeting with foreign news agencies in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin shrugged off the snub saying: “Let them celebrate without us.”

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage made a surprise appearance at the D-Day beaches.

The new Reform Party leader clambered into vintage vehicles on Gold Beach, near Arromanches, shortly after sunrise.

In his trademark Barbour jacket and red trousers, Farage took a break from the campaign train to meet World War Two enthusiasts in military uniforms.

When one of them asked where other politicians were Mr Farage joked they were “probably still asleep”.

He also took a pop at Rishi Sunak after the PM skipped the ceremony at Omaha Beach to head back to Britain early, having attended the Gold Beach service.

Mr Farage said: “I am here in Normandy in a personal capacity as I think it matters. Does he?”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron represented the UK at the US event, along with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Key moments from D-Day anniversary services:

  • King Charles and Camilla arrived at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, France
  • The Queen was seen wiping a tear from her eye as the memories of a D-Day veteran were read out
  • Charles was joined by world leaders as he delivered a speech insisting: “We must stand together to oppose tyranny”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron took his seat next to the King as British Red Arrows took part in a flypast
  • Prince William laid a wreath and honoured 14,000 Canadians who stormed Juno Beach 80 years ago today
  • He was joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal
  • In a speech honouring the courageous at the Canadian cemetery in Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, Wills praised those who ran into the “fury of battle”

A Tory source played down the diplomatic impact of the PM’s absence, pointing out he will see Mr Macron, Mr Biden and other key leaders at the G7 summit in Italy next week.

Sir Keir said ahead of the service: “It is a privilege to stand with surviving D-Day veterans in Normandy today as we mark this historic anniversary.

“We will commemorate their courage, we will honour their fallen comrades and we will ensure that their story is never forgotten.”

Hundreds of people queued to get their hands on fish and chips for a penny after Merchants Fish and Chips in Halesowen, West Mids, cut the £7 cost to 1944 prices.

Yesterday was National Fish and Chip Day, moved from today to coincide with the D-Day anniversary.

War PM Winston Churchill insisted fish and chips were not rationed in case it hit the morale of the nation.

The stats behind the historic day

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The stats behind the historic day
Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden speak with a US veteran as they attended the ceremony

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Joe Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden speak with a US veteran as they attended the ceremonyCredit: AFP
Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg were also snapped at the event

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Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg were also snapped at the eventCredit: AFP

Wills’ world

THE Prince of Wales stood shoulder to shoulder with world leaders yesterday to honour the heroes of D-Day.

William, 41, lined up alongside heads of state for a “family photo” to mark the 80th anniversary event.

The Prince, in one of his biggest appearances supporting his father, received a chummy pat on the arm from US President Joe Biden as they took their seats for a service on Omaha Beach.

He also warmly shook hands with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky in their first meeting since 2020.

William stood in for the King, who chose to speak at a service for British D-Day veterans 25 miles away.

He also chatted with 11 US veterans presented with the Legion d’Honneur by French President Emmanuel Macron.

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