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Gordon Brown – 65ème anniversaire du D-Day

65ème anniversaire du débarquement en Normandie

Discours du Premier Ministre britannique Gordon Brown

Cimetière militaire américain de Colleville-sur-Mer – 6 juin 2009

Sixty-five years ago, in the thin light of a grey dawn, more than a thousand small craft took to a rough sea on a day that will live forever in bravery. On that june morning the young of our nations stepped out on to these beaches below and into history. And as long as freedom lives their deeds will never die.

And now, more than half a century on, it is an honour for me to speak for the British people alongside friends – President Sarkozy, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, each of us representing the peoples of our nations as together we salute the brave fighting men of the largest amphibious operation in the annals of warfare.

We remember those who advanced grain of sand by grain of sand, utterly determined amid the bullets and the bloodshed that freedom would not be pushed back into the sea but would rise from these beaches below to liberate a continent and save a generation.

So this is sacred ground. This day marks the triumph of good over evil, and truth over lies, and the victory of human decency over hatred and the Holocaust. For it is the only place from which – after five years of total war and 40 million dead – Europe could be liberated. The place where breakthrough to victory occurred, the place from where you can chart the war’s end and the start of a new world. And this is the place where Britain, America, Canada and the French came together as one.

People talk of Europe and America as continents that are an ocean apart – separated by thousands of miles of water and hundreds of years of different traditions. But – on June 6 1944, at this place and in that moment, Europe and America were bound closer together than at any time in any century – and so we are allies not for a season but for centuries ever more.

People now bound for time immemorial by a shared endeavour and an unshakeable faith. Those who risked everything here sixty five years ago demonstrated that although tyranny may suppress, it cannot endure forever. They proved that dictatorship may for a time have the power to dictate , but that it will not in the end decide the course of the human journey.

They enacted the belief that as long as one of us is not free, no one of us is free. They made real the timeless values enshrined in the bill of rights, the declaration of independence, the charter of liberty and in the call of liberty, equality and fraternity.

In doing so they embodied not just the hopes of one age but the dreams of all ages. So intense was the allied cooperation that when Winston Churchill regularly asked to see strategists planning D-Day he never knew until he arrived at 10 Downing Street whether the officer would be British, Canadian or American.

And so next to Omaha Beach, we join President Obama in paying particular tribute to the spectacular bravery of American soldiers who gave their lives for people whose names they never knew, and whose faces they never saw, and yet people who have lived in freedom thanks to their sacrifice and valour.

And I know that the whole of Britain will be proud that Jack Woods is today being decorated by President Sarkozy. And alongside the brave and fearless Canadians, Jack Woods landed on Juno Beach on that June 6th day and with his comrades went on to capture five bridges and the hand that today receives the Legion d’Honneur is the hand which liberated one of the first French village to be free.

And there is an unbroken line from what happened here through to Arnhem, to the Battle of the Bulge, to the crossing of the Rhine and to the fall of the Third Reich and the end of Europe’s enslavement.

On D-Day the sounds of liberation on the march were heard right across Europe.

All over France, resistance fighters began to blow up bridges and railway lines. And we have heard before and millions have read, that in Amsterdam, Anne Frank, was inspired to write of the news of D-Day as “too wonderful, almost too much like a fairytale”. And for her even at 14 it was an affirmation that humanity could triumph in the midst of carnage. “In spite of it all,” she wrote “I still believe that people are good at heart.”

And these words written before her short life ended in a diary she thought nobody would ever read, are perhaps the finest epitaph for these courageous young men of 1944. The immortal truth – that people are good at heart is now an inspiration for another generation of corageous men and women in our armed forces today whose goodness is to work for peace around the world. We salute their devotion, and our gratitude to them and their families must always be equal to what they give.

Above all else for you, the remaining few who outlived that day, that battle and that war, who gather here today with your families and children – so our children and our children’s children will gather here year after year, to honour you, long after you are gone.

And far beyond these moments of reflection and rememberance, the threads of your lives and your ultimate victory are already woven into the fabric of the world.

Because if anyone had said on June 6, 1944, that we would create a new age of peace and union in a Europe that had been torn by centuries of conflict, that we would then witness a wall raised up by the hands of totalitarian power torn down brick by brick by the hands of people yearning to be free, if anyone had said such things in 1944, who would have dared to believe all this was possible? But the impossible has happened.

So now we must complete our great covenant with the dead of D-Day: our promise that we would build a world worthy of their sacrifice and their heroism.

For how can we say we have achieved all we set out to do, the promise of peace and justice, when the shadow of nuclear proliferation still spreads across the earth? When Darfur is in the grip of genocide, Burma is in chains, Zimbabwe is in agony? When the enemy is not just violence but the mortal threat of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease and want?

There are dreams of liberation still to be realised, commitments still to be redeemed, and vows to the dead still to be kept. And so we must be as if liberators for our day and for our generation.

For today we are only half way to honouring the pledges we made for a new world only half way from these beaches to the shining future, the truly global society, to which they opened the way.

The beacon of hope that was lit with the liberation of Europe must now lead us on. On to a world free of the danger of nuclear weapons, with all assuring the mutual security of each against terror and war.

Lead us on to a world, finally delivered from the evil of poverty and the sin of prejudice, where intolerance is never tolerated; where no one suffers persecution or discrimination on grounds of race, or faith, or differences of identity and nationality.

The newer world we reach for is not preordained or predetermined, just as victory at Normandy could not be predicted or presumed.

So too the success of our cause today is not inevitable. But neither is it impossible. And if our beliefs are God given, our path to achieve them is man made.

And this place of all places affirms that free people can bend history in the direction of our best hopes. So it was on D-Day; so it is today.

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