I am standing today at the World War II memorial at Pointe du Hoc on the northern coast of France. In the early hours of June 6, 1944—better known to us as D-Day—American rangers scaled these 100-foot sheer cliffs. Their mission was to seize German artillery to clear the way for the invasion later that day of the Normandy beaches below. It was a key element of the strategy to liberate Europe after four years of Nazi occupation.
The soldiers—dubbed Rudder’s Rangers after their commander, Lieutenant Colonel James E. Rudder—had trained for this dangerous mission for weeks on the cliffs along the British Isle of Wight. Despite their preparation, however, it seemed like a suicide mission. After reaching the shore amid a flurry of enemy gunfire and grenades, the rangers raced across the beach, shot rope ladders over the cliff top, and began to climb. Of the 225 rangers who came ashore, only 90 were still able to fight by the end of the day.
In 1984, United States president Ronald Reagan spoke from this site to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Also present were 62 of those courageous rangers. “You risked everything here,” Reagan said to them. “Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? … Somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.”1
Our national character is made of these qualities, and because of what happened on this spot in 1944, we might say that these qualities helped preserve our nation. We owe much to the faith, belief, loyalty, and love that have inspired heroic acts throughout our history.
Just a few miles from this sacred place is the Normandy American Cemetery. It features more than 9,000 graves and a wall inscribed with the names of 1,557 missing soldiers, most of whom came ashore on D-Day. The site is a solemn reminder that heroic acts come at a heavy price—something to remember when we fly our flag, march in our parades, and pursue our dreams in this land of liberty.
July 04, 2021
Broadcast Number 4,790
The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
This Is a Great Country, from Mr. President
Irving Berlin; arr. Michael Davis
God Bless America
Irving Berlin; arr. Roy Ringwald
Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
Thomas A’ Becket and David Shaw; arr. Richard Elliott
This Land Is Your Land
Woody Guthrie; arr. Percy Faith; adapted by Michael Davis
God Bless the USA
Lee Greenwood; arr. Michael Davis
My Country, ‘Tis of Thee
Traditional Hymn tune; arr. Mack Wilberg
You’re a Grand Old Flag
George M. Cohan; arr. Arthur Harris