On Thursday, President Joe Biden attended the 80th anniversary of D-Day, addressing 180 surviving veterans of the Normandy operation and thousands of other guests at the Normandy American Cemetery. During his speech, Biden asserted that the Allied effort to resist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a direct continuation of the struggle for freedom that swept across Europe during WWII.

Drawing direct parallels between the principles at stake during both wars, Biden emphasized the importance of defending freedom and maintaining a rules-based international order.

He highlighted how, eight decades later, the U.S. is leading a coalition of European and other nations in a different but similarly principled war, opposing the seizure of a neighboring country – this time, Ukraine, by Russian President Vladimir Putin .

Standing near the graves of 9,388 American soldiers who fought in the Allied invasion at Omaha Beach, Biden declared that the world must defeat another “tyrant bent on domination” and face “the test of ages” to defend Ukraine, just as those soldiers did eight decades ago.

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“Isolation was not the answer 80 years ago and is not the answer today,” Biden said. “We know the dark forces that these heroes fought against 80 years ago. They never fade. Aggression and greed, the desire to dominate and control, to change borders by force – these are perennial. The struggle between dictatorship and freedom is unending.”

In his address, Biden proclaimed that “NATO is more united than ever,” reaffirming the alliance’s commitment to Ukraine, just as the United States supported Europe in its fight against the Nazis.

“We will not walk away, because if we do, Ukraine will be subjugated and it will not end there,” said Biden.

Before his address, Biden met with 41 veterans of the Normandy campaign, including 33 who took part in D-Day. Most of the men, now in their late 90s or over 100, were assisted by wheelchairs or canes.

Actor Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg, who collaborated on the film Saving Private Ryan and have dedicated themselves to documenting the WWII generation, were also in attendance.

Biden, who was a toddler during the Normandy operation and will likely be the last U.S. president to speak at a Normandy remembrance who was alive during WWII, was accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden. She joined the President after attending the trial of their son, Hunter Biden, who faces federal gun charges.

Concluding his address with praise to the WWII heroes, Biden said, “They knew beyond any doubt that there are things that are worth fighting and dying for. Freedom is worth it. Democracy is worth it. America is worth it. The world is worth it. Then, now, and always.”

After the commemoration, Biden attended an international D-Day remembrance event at Omaha Beach with other world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

American officials emphasized how the solemn setting of Normandy, where the Allies decisively shifted the course of Europe’s fate after nearly five years of conflict, served to highlight the consequences for Europe and the world should the United States and its allies falter and allow Putin to prevail.

On Friday, Biden delivered another speech at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, emphasizing the perils of isolationism and the imperative to safeguard and foster democracy.

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