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World Leaders Mark 75th Anniversary Of D-Day Invasion. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 6, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:34:45] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All morning, we are watching the really emotional, poignant moments from Normandy, France. The president and first family are there.

I think we're about to get a prayer before the two presidents speak, John, and we just heard the national anthem.

[05:35:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, the national anthem of both the United States and France.

Some 12,000 people in the crowd there, as we've been saying all morning. One hundred sixty-five U.S. veterans of World War II -- 170, I should say; 65 veterans of the D-Day landing, itself.

Christiane Amanpour and Jim Acosta -- they join us now. They are at the U.S. cemetery in Normandy, overlooking Omaha Beach.

Christiane, we are going to hear from both President Trump and Emmanuel Macron.

We have a sense of what President Trump will say. He'll talk about our cherished alliance and the unbreakable bond between the United States and the allied countries.

And I know that's an important message when you're talking about D- Day. It's also, I think, a welcomed message for many of these European countries as they look to the United States and try to understand what's going on.


And we are here at the Colleville-sur-Mer cemetery, which is where the American veterans are buried. And it's just here, just at the other end of this cemetery that the ceremony that you're watching on the screen is taking place with the presidents of both countries, their first ladies, but most importantly, of course, the vets who have come -- those few who remain. They are mostly in their 90s -- late 90s -- and some even in their 100s, and there are not that many of them left anymore.

When they went -- some of them would have been sitting in wheelchairs -- some of them are right now. But even on the beaches when they saluted those who could get down there for H-hour, the hour that the forces landed on the beaches of Normandy -- Omaha Beach is below us here.

But there were five that the Allied stormed and surprised the Nazis and began to turn the tide in this war and to liberate Europe from the domination of the Nazi forces.

It was, as everybody has said, the greatest amphibious invasion of modern history -- of modern warfare -- and it took, as I said, the Nazis by surprise.

And that is really what everybody is commemorating today because they know very well as we watch these young presidents, as we watch the youngsters here as well, that the older generation --

BERMAN: The president --

AMANPOUR: -- and the greatest generation -- those who remain are dwindling and there are very few of them left. So you can imagine that this is probably the last of these big, big ceremonies and commemorations that many of them will attend.

And we're going to be speaking to some of the very, very elderly veterans who have managed to come here. One even managed to get a ticket through Crowdfunding -- through his neighborhood. His friends did that and he is here with his -- with his family.

And some, as I said, are in -- are in wheelchairs and you saw President Trump and President Macron greet them very, very warmly.

You cannot help by being moved and by being awed and by really remembering just the high, huge cost so few really paid to liberate so many and to keep us all so free.

And that is why the message that everybody hopes to hear from President Trump will be to pay tribute to what came after that and built on those incredible alliances because as everybody's been saying, particularly during President Trump's trip to the U.K. ahead of this Normandy commemoration -- everybody's been saying look, the world may have changed.

In fact, the Queen, herself, said it at the state banquet in London. But alliances haven't changed. The way we do things to make our world a better place, a safer place, a place for our values, our freedoms, and for our future generations. That actually has not changed and we need to keep together.

And, in fact, I was talking to the secretary of the army earlier this morning and he was saying look, in some of these huge, huge battles that we face -- for instance, against China, in all ways -- we at least have allies. They really don't and that's what this is all about.

CAMEROTA: And, Christiane, of course, it does lend poignancy to this entire day knowing that at the next big celebration, the 80th, that many of those 65 who are there today who did storm the beach there at Normandy won't be here because they're probably 93 years old.

Though I must say, yesterday, Queen Elizabeth made a point of saying that at the 70th, people counted a lot of them out. And she said, and I'm happy to report we're still here. So, who knows?

But I do think that there's a real poignancy in the air today.

And so, Jim Acosta, we do have some of the -- Sarah Sanders handed out some of the president's excerpts of the prepared remarks.

And, just one more time, what he plans to say is, "To all of our friends and partners, our cherished alliance was forced in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable."

And it sounds like that is the message from all sides today.


And just to echo what Christiane was saying a few moments ago, when you walk around here at this cemetery -- this American military cemetery in Normandy -- and when you walk around on the beaches of Normandy -- we were on Omaha Beach last night -- you can't help but be, at times, overwhelmed with emotion even these 75 years later when you think about the bravery that was demonstrated by these allied forces as they stormed the beaches here.

[05:40:15] I mean, keep in mind, when you walk around here it's amazing. As you walk along the beach you can see the ridgeline just up the hill from the beach and you can only -- you can just imagine what these forces were up against -- the Allied forces -- what they were up against as they were storming these beaches. They were -- there were sitting ducks as the Nazis were raining hellfire on top of them.


ACOSTA: And to see that kind of -- or to imagine that kind of bravery is just sort of an overwhelming thing.

BERMAN: Jim, I just want to cut in -- I just want to cut in for one second because we just saw something very, very nice, which is that the world leaders who are gathered there -- they rose, as you can see right now, to give a standing ovation to the veterans of World War II and the veterans of D-Day.

And there's just one thing I want to point about this image and the stagecraft here that I think is really wonderful, which is that President Trump, President Macron -- again, the leaders of the world -- they are sitting amongst the U.S. veterans -- the war veterans -- the people who landed that day and helped save the world because they are the focus of today and what today is all about. And I think it's a wonderful image to see those faces in such prominence on this day.

CAMEROTA: We expect President Macron to speak momentarily, but we're going to sneak in a quick break before that and bring you the speeches when we come back.


[05:45:46] BERMAN: All right, welcome back to NEW DAY. We've been watching the ceremonies taking place in Normandy, France -- the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

You're looking at the French president, Emmanuel Macron. He is addressing the audience, some 12,000 people strong, including well over 100 World War II U.S. veterans and 65 veterans of the D-Day invasion. So many of them sitting behind the French leader right now.

And one of the things that's been so nice is that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Donald Trump -- they've been surrounded on that stage by the veterans. The veterans are the focal point of this day and it's to them that we give our thanks and our remembrance.

CAMEROTA: And we're with Jim Acosta and Christiane Amanpour who is, obviously, keeping an ear out for whatever President Macron is saying.

It's already been interesting, Christiane, to watch the relationship, of course, between President Trump and the first lady, and President Macron and France's first lady, and they greeted each other very warmly. And it will be interesting to see what they say in their speeches and the subtext of their speeches.

What are you listening for?

AMANPOUR: Well, exactly. I mean, I think we're going to hear more of actually what we've already heard from President Trump on this trip.

And, of course, what we heard from President Trump and the other world leaders who already got together at Portsmouth, just across the English Channel from where we are now -- I mean, if you just turn over there from where this speech is happening -- where all those veterans are sitting -- just to their right is the sea -- is the Channel -- is where the beaches are that these veterans stormed -- that came across -- that really, really difficult time.

You remember D-Day was delayed by 24 hours because of bad weather. They were able to take advantage of a little break in the clouds. It was meant to have happened the day before.

Eisenhower had to sign off. He called it an appalling responsibility to try to figure out was the weather going to be good or was it not going to be good enough for this, what was a surprise attack on these beaches. And that surprise element was what really helped to really make that sort of military wedge into the very fierce German Nazi defenses.

So I think that is just -- you can just feel that as it's going on right now.

You can hear President Macron, and he'll be talking about the sacrifice, the joint endeavor. The fact that finally, the French managed to get -- the British who managed to get the Americans into the war to help. And without all of them together it just simply probably would not have happened the way it did. And I think that is going to be the basis of the comments that you're hearing from President Macron.

And from what you've read of the excerpts from President Trump, it's going to be similar as well, paying tribute to the greatest alliance that turned the tide in what could have been a rout by the Nazi war machine. And that storming of the Normandy beaches 75 years ago today was what began to turn the tide.

And all the stories that make up that massive military endeavor -- all the individual stories of the soldiers, of the French civilians, of the people who were caught up in this, whether it's the paratroopers or the infantry. All these young, young people, mostly -- young boys -- you men, some of whom even lied about their age in order to be able to sign up and to -- and to join this huge, huge effort.

And as so many people say and so many people who are reviewing the history and remembering, certainly, there are many, many fewer -- as you can imagine, obviously -- veterans. There are very, very few of those who stormed the beaches of Normandy who are alive today. Some 65 of them are here -- of the Americans, a handful of British.

Some of the French, but very few French at the time -- the free French -- the resistance French who did work with the allies. Their country was under occupation, obviously, at the time. And there are very few of these people still alive.

And each face that you look at -- and you can see them behind President Macron now and you can see them when they were greeting President Trump and the first lady -- you know, they're so proud of what they did and so proud to be here.

Some -- imagine this -- some in their late 90s and have never been able to get here from the United States and are making this trip for the very first time.

[05:50:00] So I think all of that is going be a big, big, big motif today. And, particularly, given the threat and the strain to multilateralism and the strain to the alliances, it's going to be a welcomed boost -- a real good jab in the arm for those who believe that without allies, without multilateralism, without acting together the national and international agendas cannot be fulfilled.

BERMAN: Yes, they are the men who landed on the beaches that day -- the boys, I should say, who landed on the beaches that day are the men now sitting behind the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

And at the conclusion of this speech the French leader is giving, he will present the Legion of Honor to five U.S. veterans -- Vincent Heinz (ph), Stanley Friday, Harold Terrence (ph), Charles Jureau (ph), Enmal Worth (ph). Those are five of the 65 D-Day veterans who are there for this ceremony.

And as Christiane was saying, Jim, so many of them, it might be their first time to this beach since they landed there 75 years ago today.

And, Jim, I am, again, struck by the images we're seeing and how it's all set up, making the veterans the center of this moment.

ACOSTA: That's right, John. And anytime you come down to these beaches you see the American and French flags flying together.

Yes, of course, there are people in France who don't think highly of President Trump. Yes, the relationship between the U.S. and France is strained somewhat right now.

But when you talk to people here in Normandy along this coastline, there is still great love -- great affection for the United States. A great appreciation for the sacrifices that were made 75 years ago. And I suspect that is exactly what we're hearing from the French president, Emmanuel Macron, right now.

I will tell you, though, Emmanuel Macron has been something of a critic of President Trump in recent months.

I was at the armistice celebration commemorating the end of World War I back in November when President Macron talked about how he felt nationalism was a betrayal of patriotism.

At the time, that was seen as very much a -- you know, not a slap in the face but a message that was very much counter to what President Trump has talked about so much during his rise to power and while he's been in office as President of the United States. I don't think we'll hear a whole lot of that from Emmanuel Macron.

But the other thing he talked about during Armistice Day was how the ghosts of the past -- how these dark forces from the past may be gathering steam once again and posing a threat around the world.

And when you talk to European leaders -- and I've talked to a variety of European officials over the last several months about this -- they are very, very concerned about the rise of nationalism and the rise of far-right politics here in Europe. And, Emmanuel Macron is very acutely aware of that and he's very concerned about that when you to talk French officials.

But putting all of that side, yes, when you just look at the faces of these men who have -- who have been here to remind us every anniversary on D-Day of the price that was -- that was paid on these beaches in their blood, and in their toil, and in their sweat to make sure that the world could remain free.

Yes, lots of nations talk about putting their own country first, but this was an event for all of humanity when the world was put first, when freedom was put first, when liberty was put first. And we all owe a debt of gratitude to these heroes and these patriots -- patriots first --


ACOSTA: -- who really saved the world from the darkest forces that mankind really has ever known.

And as we watch this unfold today, whatever you think of President Trump, whatever you think about the politics of the day, it is sort of an amazing thing to sit back and reflect on the bravery and the courage that these men brought to bear 75 years ago.


ACOSTA: You know, when you -- when you walk around on this cemetery right behind me John, and you see that French flag and that American flag standing side-by-side, the politics of the moment just sort of washes away as you appreciate something that's just really bigger than all of us -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's -- of course, that area puts everything in perspective.

And the gratitude is what President Macron just did. He's been speaking in French, but he just said words in English. As he turned around to look at the veterans, he said, "The French people owe it all to you. Thank you."

And can you imagine what it must be like for those veterans to hear that in person, some of whom, as you say, have never been there before and to hear that from the French president? That is just such a touching moment.

BERMAN: And I think, each to them, to a man, would say we were just doing our duty. We were doing what we felt we had to do.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BERMAN: We're watching these ceremonies in Normandy, France. We'll take a quick break. Our special live coverage continues after this.


[05:59:18] CAMEROTA: You have been watching a very special edition of NEW DAY as we remember D-Day.

And we just saw a very touching moment from French President Macron. He was giving his speech in French, of course, and then he stopped and paused and in English, he turned and he honored the U.S. veterans. Sixty-five of them are there in the audience today who stormed the beach of --Omaha Beach of Normandy.

And he turned to them and -- I don't know if we have him saying it or if -- OK, listen to what he -- listen to what he told them.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: We know what we owe to you veterans -- our freedom. On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you.