In my opinion, there were two strong messages:
- In the real world, we need allies. If America was great 75 years ago, it was because of the British who stood by it in June 1940, the Canadians who participated in the landings, the Australians, and the French resistance fighters. This greatness is the result of the Allied’s combined efforts. Commemorating the landing in 2019 is different from celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1994: today, we are not reminding ourselves of the possibility of war and the need for alliance; we are almost warned against it.
- No one should mess with freedom and democracy. Emmanuel Macron somewhat used the commemoration as a way of warning against populisms, as a form of populism led Europe into WWII. Wouldn't it be betraying the veterans to allow evil to return to Europe? Did thousands died in vain in June 1944? One of the great lessons of this historical episode is an invitation to admit that all these men would probably not have had to sacrifice themselves if Adolf Hitler's rise to power had been prevented.
Finally, I find it useful to highlight the symbolic weight of those 177 Frenchmen who took part in the military operation. 177, it is of course not much compared to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who arrived on our coasts, but they embodied the best of France and the values for which they were ready to die. I would therefore like to summarize the commemorations as follows: they have shown the value of alliance and the importance of values.
Some were present... and some others were absent. How do you analyze the chosen list of invited countries?
Let's start with those who were present. Angela Merkel's presence in Portsmouth on June 5 was, again, a beautiful symbol. Since the 1980s and the presidency of Richard von Weizsäcker, Germany has developed a speech according to which June 6, 1944 was also the day of liberation for the country. The landing is seen as the trigger for a process that allowed Germany’s liberation from Nazism.
About those who have not been invited, we hear a lot about how Vladimir Putin's absence is regrettable. I consider this criticism unjustified, because the veterans were to be honoured, and there were no Russians on our beaches, and therefore no Russian veterans. The present must obviously not seize the past and steal it: Russian sacrifice during this world conflict exists and is always celebrated and honoured. But it is also important that the past does not distort the present: we honoured the fighters of June 5 and 6, 1944, and, among them, Germans. Let us appreciate the beauty of the European construction that, out of once enemy peoples, made brothers and allies so unwavering that they can tell: "By landing, you have freed us from our demons".
Copyright : MANDEL NGAN / AFP