Obama In France To Honor D-Day Fallen President Obama is in France Saturday to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy and attend ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
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Obama In France To Honor D-Day Fallen

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Obama In France To Honor D-Day Fallen

Obama In France To Honor D-Day Fallen

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Don, thanks for being with us.

DON GONYEA: Hi, Scott. Glad to be here. That noise in the background is President Obama's helicopter, Marine One, getting ready to take off.

GONYEA: Well, let's hear a bit from what President Obama said there at the beaches in paying tribute to the veterans of D-Day.

P: Friends and veterans, we cannot forget. What we must not forget is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century.

SIMON: And Don, I understand that the president had - well, it was bad news to impart, but it particularly made a poignant moment today.

GONYEA: It was a really remarkable moment. He spoke for about 17 minutes, and as presidents often do, they get to the point of a speech where they point to examples, testimonials, individuals who really, who really embody the things he's talking about. And he started to tell a story about an American veteran who landed here at Normandy, at Omaha Beach on D-Day, a veteran named James Norene.

P: One such veteran, a man named Jim Norene, who was member of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Division of the 101st Airborne. Last night after visiting the cemetery for one last time, he passed away in his sleep. Jim was gravely ill when he left his home and he knew that he might not return. But just as he did 65 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.

GONYEA: It was just a really, really powerful moment, in a day when there were many, many very strong speeches from the other leaders of the Allied nations.

SIMON: You said Prince Charles was there, certainly - and President Sarkozy of France. I feel I've got to note: As all this was going on, Don, President Obama delivered some very pointed remarks about North Korea, where he - it seemed clear that he seemed - he might be running out of patience.

GONYEA: He did. I mean this is a trip to Europe. And this ceremony at D-Day is kind of the capstone of the trip. But he has had meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dresden, and today, prior to the D-Day event, he had a meeting, a bilateral meeting, with Nicholas Sarkozy, of course the French leader, and afterward they took some questions. One of them was about North Korea, and the president seems to be losing his patience. Of course we've had the missile tests, and a lot of noise out of North Korea and out of Pyongyang. The president said he prefers still to take a diplomatic approach.

P: But diplomacy has to involve the other side engaging in a serious way in trying to solve problems. And we have not seen that kind of reaction from North Korea.

GONYEA: So some strong words on a different topic here on this day.

SIMON: NPR's Don Gonyea, who is traveling with President Obama, speaking to us from the American Cemetery in Normandy. Don, thanks very much.

GONYEAH: Thank you.

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