Embattled British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his remarks before a crowd of veterans and others mistakenly referred to Omaha Beach as “Obama Beach“.
After a bruising week in the Commons it was hard to imagine how things could get worse for the beleaguered Prime Minister.
In his speech he referred to ‘Obama Beach’ rather than Omaha Beach, the correct name of the scene where thousands of American soldiers lost their lives.
But Gordon Brown managed to pull yet another gaffe out of the bag when he confused the name of the beach where the D-Day landings took place with that of the American president.
Possibly it was the “heat” of the day or he was simply adjusting his shades, but it was noted;
Some of the veterans seemed less than enthralled by Mr. Brown’s presence.
One put his head in his hands as he listened to the Prime Minister’s speech during the ceremony in Normandy, France.
It wasn’t all gaffes though. In what was no doubt a stirring tribute to the veterans of D-Day, Obama noted before the large crowd of veterans;
“Last night, after visiting this cemetery for one last time, he passed away in his sleep,” Obama told a solemn crowd of vets stretching farther than most eyes can see. “Jim was gravely ill when he left his home, and he knew that he might not return. But just as he did sixty-five years ago, he came anyway. May he now rest in peace with the boys he once bled with, and may his family always find solace in the heroism he showed here.”
He was speaking of Jim Norene who traveled thousands of miles despite reportedly suffering stage 4 cancer, and who passed in his sleep only the night before, subtracting one more from the shrinking ranks of the “Greatest Generation’s” WWII veterans.
Obama also took the opportunity to take North Korea and Iran to task, but the day was for the vets and their stories;
“I lost a lot of pals on D-Day,” said Norman Coleman of Manchester, England. He marked the day by visiting several other burial grounds scattered around the region, where soldiers were buried as they fell in pitched battles over 12 decisive weeks.
Julien Marchand, a 40-year-old carpenter, spontaneously embraced Coleman in an outburst of gratitude on the streets of Caen, nearly knocking over the elderly veteran. “Thank you, thank you, merci,” Marchand exclaimed.
As the vets reach their 80s and 90s, it should be for and about them, to say thank you for their sacrifice on June 6, 1944 when they surprised Churchill by “only” suffering 10,000 casualties instead of the much higher number he was expecting.
For fighting to secure a beachhead, to scale the cliffs, to silence the shore batteries, build the temporary docks, cross the hedgerows, and ultimately stop Hitler from his insane conquest, thank you.