Obama gets a D-Day celebration invite for one WWII vet …

posted at 3:34 pm on June 3, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama joins Nicolas Sarkozy for the 65th anniversary celebration of the invasion of Normandy that liberated France, he will be joined by a veteran of the war that the French overlooked.  No, not Elizabeth Windsor, who served the war effort as a mechanic before becoming Queen Elizabeth II, and who remains snubbed by both Obama and Sarkozy.  Instead, Obama will make it a family affair:

President Obama’s great uncle Charlie Payne, who helped liberate a German concentration camp in 1945, will travel to Normandy to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion this Saturday, a White House official tells ABC News.

Payne, the younger brother of the president’s late grandmother Madelyn Dunham, served as a private first class in the Army’s 89th Infantry Division.

I think it’s admirable of Obama to bring along his uncle.  At his age, he may not get a chance to participate in another high-profile celebration of D-Day and the liberation of France.  Payne is one of the hundreds of thousands of heroes who helped end a despicable tyranny and keep the West safe for freedom and liberty.  I hope that Payne will be joined by as many of his comrades as possible, in order to give us one more opportunity to honor their courage, sacrifice, and victory while they’re with us to enjoy it.

Of course, the same holds true for Queen Elizabeth, who had not been invited to the remembrance.  Neither Obama nor Sarkozy were alive on D-Day.  One would think that any major celebration would include the one head of state in the West that actually served in the war, out of simple respect for her service.  Apparently, that thought never occurred to the French, or to the Obama administration either, at least not at first.

After the diplomatic row hit the newspapers, the French — reluctantly — invited the royal family to attend.  Elizabeth initially refused, but Charles will attend in her stead:

Clarence House received an official invitation yesterday from the French Ambassador.

It was feared the furious Queen would still not attend. But Charles told her it was important at least one of the family made the trip.

A spokesman said: “The Prince of Wales will attend D-Day commemorations in Normandy on the invitation of President Sarkozy.”

The Mirror reports that Obama finally demanded that the Queen be invited or at least represented, and if so, good for him.  Maybe the White House Protocol Office should have considered that from the beginning, but perhaps they were busy buying iPods and DVD retrospectives of American cinema for heads of state.

Update: Some people in the comments are confused about the picture.  It is young Elizabeth Windsor serving her country during World War II by performing vehicle maintenance.


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The day after almost 800 Lancasters bombed Dresden, over 300 Flying Fortresses bombed the city. Had the weather been clearer, U.S. bombers were scheduled to bomb the city, first.

OhEssYouCowboys on June 3, 2009 at 6:01 PM

So he’s not going to apologize for the British firebombing, but for the US rubbing it in the following day? Maybe he should apologize for our destroying all those lovely pillboxes the German Workers Party had erected on the shores of France, too. It takes a lot of time and craftsmanship to pour that much concrete, you know.

Blacklake on June 3, 2009 at 7:00 PM

I guess Obama also read the article where his great uncle called the Obama photo op, just what it was and said Obama and Obama’s grandmother and grandfather never discussed Payne’s war service with him or his presence at the liberation of the Buchenwald camps and that Payne hadn’t been invited to attend (at the time of the interview). What a difference an interview or two makes.

eaglewingz08 on June 3, 2009 at 7:04 PM

There was more than oil spilled on that beach President Apologies.

portlandon on June 3, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Some of that spilled belonged to my uncle, a few miles beyond the beach. He is buried near there. I was old enough to understand what was happening when the chaplain arrived at my grandparent’s door to advise my aunt, with me standing behind her.

It turns my stomach to have this POTUS represent us there considering his total lack of understanding of what those years were like, and his apparent distain for the sacrifices made by so many young men who never had the chance to grow any older. They knew what they gave all for, while Obama will never reach that level of perception.

Yoop on June 3, 2009 at 7:05 PM

maverick muse on June 3, 2009 at 4:28 PM

France still owes us a ton of money methinks.

Chaz706 on June 3, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Whoops…. Correction Time: Wipers is actually in Belgium not France!!

lexhamfox on June 3, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Correct and the Menin Gate commemorates all of the Commonwealth war dead with no known grave from the fighting in Belgium, not just the British.

There are similar monuments in France such as the Vimy Memorial.

Jim708 on June 3, 2009 at 7:56 PM

Thanks for the opportunity for me to once again say how much I love the very graceful Queen Elizabeth. No one holds a candle to her in calm and grace, under whatever circumstances.

hmmm…except Good ole’ Maggie!

Talk about women to look up to. Britain gave us Margaret and Elizabeth. Take that Hillary and Pelosi!!

As to forgetting to invite the Queen, I’m not the least surprised. Our governments are no longer capable of respect for things owed respect.

To HRH, I pay my respects to her service in WWII. Even if our yutz of a president will not.

tickleddragon on June 3, 2009 at 9:13 PM

Didn’t know the tale of young Ms. Windsor. Thought with all the compliments to Mr. Payne, y’all might like the history of Ohrdruf
Oh and a tip for the conservative minded, don’t trust everything on wiki.

Blacksmith8 on June 3, 2009 at 9:54 PM

Is his Uncle as racist as his grandmother was?

Just sayin’ …

Hopefully the tour won’t be a bus tour – because Charlie stands a hazard of being thrown under it. Kinda happens a lot with Obama’s relatives of non-Kenyan ancestry.

HondaV65 on June 3, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Comment pages: 1 2