Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte on presenting President Trump with the American Flag from D-Day, Washington DC

Mr President, Mr Vice President, [ladies and gentlemen],

  • 75 years ago, on the Normandy coast, the Allied forces – including thousands of American soldiers – started the liberation of Europe. Beach by beach, street by street and city by city they recaptured our freedom. At a terrible cost. Many of those men gave their lives so that today we can live our lives in freedom and peace. We will be forever grateful to them.
  • When we hear the stories of those who survived, we can barely imagine what they must have gone through. Landing on those Normandy beaches, plowing through the cold water and the thick mud, while countless grenades exploded and machine guns fired. Death, chaos and terror surrounded them. But despite all this, those brave soldiers managed to stand their ground. They advanced beyond the beaches and eventually liberated Europe from Nazi occupation, country by country.
  • It’s impossible to put their courage and sacrifice into words. But this flag we present to you, Mr President, is a symbol of what can’t be expressed in words. The first American flag to reach the coast of Normandy, where it was strafed by enemy fire – like all those Allied soldiers.
  • This flag survived, and it prevailed. 
  • Thanks to Mr Bert Kreuk, who became the flag’s owner, we stand here today to hand it back to you. A symbol of the unique bond between the US and Europe, a bond that stretches across the Atlantic.
  • It’s also a symbol of the close bond between the US and the Netherlands in particular. Our countries stand shoulder to shoulder when times are tough. Centuries ago, the Netherlands was one of the first countries to support the young American republic striving for independence. And in our darkest hour, 75 years ago, thousands of brave American soldiers crossed the Atlantic to fight for our freedom.   
  • They brought this flag with them. Seventy-five years ago it arrived on the coast of Normandy, and today it’s coming home. To the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Back where it belongs.

Thank you.