The Atlantic

The Ghosts of D-Day

The battle is long over, but the fight against extremist illiberal politics is not.
Source: AP

Charles de Gaulle found the memory of D-Day so painful that he refused to participate in commemorations of the Normandy invasion during his 11 years as president of France. He did not invite heads of government to mark either the 20th anniversary in 1964 or the 25th in 1969. Old soldiers saluted; ambassadors laid wreaths.

President Dwight Eisenhower had tried to salve the French hurt in the statement he released for the 10th anniversary in 1954. The statement did not mention the United States or its armed forces. It praised by name three British commanders, three French, one Soviet—no Americans. It credited the victory to “the joint labors of cooperating nations,” and said “it depended for its success upon the skill, determination and self-sacrifice of men from several lands.” You might want to read it as a prophylactic antidote to the boast and bombast likely to fill the air today.

The experience of liberation was a complex thing for almost every country that experienced it from 1943 to 1945, but perhaps nowhere more than France. In

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