Remembering Bush's unremembered D-Day speech

Twenty years later, when George W. Bush went to France, he had an even harder job. Bush’s host in 2004 was French President Jacques Chirac, who had broken with the Bush administration over the invasion of Iraq. At a joint Paris press conference I attended on June 5 of that year, the body language between the leaders was terrible, the tension palpable. Yet, the following morning Bush won over Chirac with a remarkable, if unremembered speech – one of the best of Bush’s presidency…

“There were life belts and canteens and socks and K-rations and helmets and diaries and snapshots,” Bush said. “And there were Bibles, many Bibles, mixed with the wreckage of war. Our boys had carried in their pockets the book that brought into the world this message: Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends. America honors all the liberators who fought here in the noblest of causes.”

Turning then toward Chirac, Bush delivered the speech’s kicker. “And America would do it again, for our friends.”

The field of green was silent for a moment before the aging audience broke into heartfelt applause. Chirac, clearly moved by Bush’s words, approached the American president, grasped both his hands, and for a poignant moment, did not let go.