(CNSNews.com) - At a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, President Trump hailed the "greatest Americans who will ever live" for their courage and sacrifice as they "battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy and self-rule."
“We are gathered here on freedom's altar. On this day 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood and thousands sacrificed their lives for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty. Today we remember those who fell, and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization.
“To more than 170 veterans of the Second World War who join us today, you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Trump told the 60 D-Day veterans gathered behind him – those who landed on the beaches and are now in their 90s -- "Our debt to you is everlasting."
"Today we express our undying gratitude. When you were young, these men enlisted their lives in a great crusade, one of the greatest of all times. Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious, eternal struggle between good and evil.
“On the 6th of June 1944, they joined a liberation force of awesome power and breathtaking scale. After months of planning, the allies had chosen this ancient coastline to mount their campaign to vanquish the wicked tyranny of the Nazi empire from the face of the Earth."
Trump thanked the allies who fought their way onto the beaches under heavy German firepower -- the British, Canadians, Poles, Norwegians, Australians and French.
"And finally, there were the Americans," he said.
"They came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities and the forges of mighty industrial towns. Before the war, many had never ventured beyond their own community. Now they had come to offer their lives half a world from home."
The president named individual soldiers, some of them in the audience, who "carried on their shoulders not just the pack of a solider by the fate of the free world."
One of them was Colonel George Taylor, Trump said, of the 16th infantry regiment that joined the first wave of the D-Day assault.
Taylor was asked what would happen if the Germans stopped them right there on the beach:
"This great American replied, why, the 18th infantry is coming in right behind us. The 26th infantry will come on, too. Then there is the second infantry division already afloat and the 9th division and the 2nd armored and the 3rd armored and all the rest. Maybe the 16th won't make it, but someone will."
‘The fierce patriotism of a free, proud and sovereign people’
Trump also talked about the 9,388 young Americans who didn't survive -- who "rest beneath the white crosses and Stars of David arrayed on these beautiful grounds."
They were young men with their entire lives before them. They were husbands who said good-bye to their young brides and took their duty as their fate. They were fathers who would never meet their infant sons and daughters because they had a job to do. With God as their witness, they were going to get it done.
They came wave after wave without question, without hesitation and without complaint. More powerful than the strength of American arms was the strength of American hearts. These men ran through the fires of hell, moved by a force no weapon could destroy. The fierce patriotism of a free, proud and sovereign people. They battled, not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy and self-rule.
They pressed on for love and home and country, the main streets, the schoolyards, the churches, and neighbors, the families and communities that gave us men such as these. They were sustained by the confidence that America can do anything because we are a noble nation with a virtuous people, praying to a righteous God.
The exceptional might came from a truly exceptional spirit. The abundance of courage came from an abundance of faith. The great deeds of an army came from the great depths of their love. As they confronted their fate, the allies placed themselves into the palm of God's hand.
The men behind me will tell you that they are just the lucky ones. As one of them recently put it, all the heroes are buried here. We know what these men did. We knew how brave they were. They came here and saved freedom. And then they went home and showed us all what freedom is all about.
The American sons and daughters who saw us to victory were no less extraordinary in peace. They built families. They built industries. They built a national culture that inspired the entire world. In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights, revolutionized science, launched a man to the moon and then kept on pushing to new frontiers. And today, America is stronger than ever before.
Seven decades ago, the warriors of D-Day fought a sinister enemy who spoke of a thousand-year empire. In defeating that evil, they left a legacy that will last not only for a thousand years, but for all time.
For as long as the soul knows of duty and honor, for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart, to the men who sit behind me and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old. Your legend will never die. Your spirit -- brave, unyielding and true -- will never die.
The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for a nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.
Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal, and our children and their children will forever and always be free.