The D-Day scandal that wasn’t




Many Republicans in the US have jumped on to the false outrage story dragged over from the UK. Reactionaries there have whipped themselves into a frenzy and the American right has bought into it hook, line and sinker. It’s the story where the Queen of England – THE QUEEN, FOR GOSH SAKES! – has been ignored for the upcoming D-Day ceremony in Normandy. Yes, the British monarch has been treated like dirt so that Obama can be the center of attention together with Nicholas Sarkozy.

It’s been a huge slap in the face to the queen who could not believe the rudeness and egotism of Obama. Sounds pretty terrible for any who give a damn about royalty. The only problem is that it’s not really a scandal. The Independent:

Fact one: There was an enormous “international event” to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day five years ago, to which the Queen was invited. There were similar events for the 50th and 40th anniversaries, to which the Queen was invited. There was no sizable, official celebration, except by the veterans themselves, of, say, the 45th or the 55th anniversaries.

Fact two: The “international ceremony” at the American cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach on Saturday is not an “international ceremony” on the same scale as the 60th anniversary celebration. It was something put together in relative haste after President Barack Obama let it be known a few weeks ago that he would like to attend the D-Day commemoration this year. For a young, recently elected President, Omaha was an important box to tick.

President Nicolas Sarkozy let it be known that he would also like to attend. If he had not done so, he would have been accused, rightly, of ignoring the heroism of the young Americans who died on Omaha Beach.

Fact three: The Obama-Sarkozy event is a commemoration in an American military cemetery beside an American invasion beach in France. When the French government said that it was “mainly a Franco-American affair”, that is what they meant. British Normandy veterans – if anyone bothers talking to them, rather than just pontificating in their name – have nothing but praise for the help given to them by the French authorities in their June pilgrimages to the three British invasion beaches – this year and every year.

Fact four: There is no British official ceremony to match the event at Omaha Beach because the government is following the practise of successive governments, Labour and Tory. Big military commemorations should be relatively sparing or such events become so banal that public interest fades. Years ending in 10 yes; years ending in five no. There is something to be said for such a policy, if the government had only stuck to it. British D-Day veterans themselves understand the policy and broadly support it.

And of course, the White House fell for the trap. Ugh.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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