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Austin Draws Parallels Between D-Day, War in Ukraine on WWII Allied Invasion Anniversary

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, greets U.S. war veterans during a ceremony to mark the 79th anniversary of the liberation of France and Western Europe from Nazi control, at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, June 6, 2023.

As thousands walked the beaches of Normandy, France, to honor those who fought to liberate Europe in World War II, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin drew parallels between D-Day and the fight to free Ukraine from its Russian invaders.

Austin called on nations to defend the principles for which the Allied forces fought “with undimmed vigor,” in a world “where sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected.”

“If the troops of the world’s democracies could risk their lives for freedom, then surely the citizens of the world’s democracies can risk our comfort for freedom now,” he said Tuesday.

Speaking directly to some of the veterans who stormed Omaha beach, Utah beach and three other French beaches on June 6, 1944, Austin praised them for their courage that “won out over terror” and tyranny.

“We salute you. You saved the world,” he said.

The 79th anniversary was marked as Ukraine was preparing to launch a counteroffensive to push back Russian ground forces trying to maintain control of parts of Ukraine they have occupied.

Many of the same allied nations that fought against the Nazi forces in Europe during World War II have now provided billions of dollars in weapons and training to Ukrainian soldiers defending their territory and citizens.

“Peace and freedom are never guaranteed. They must be guarded and cherished and sometimes fought for and paid in blood,” said U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who also attended Tuesday’s ceremony.

D-Day refers to the amphibious Allied invasion of occupied France in 1944. Officially called “Operation Overlord,” it was the largest amphibious invasion in military history, which successfully won a foothold from which the Allies eventually took control of Europe from Nazi Germany.

The operation involved more than 150,000 troops and more than 5,000 ships and landing craft. At least 12 countries joined forces during the Normandy invasion, including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.