Prime Minister David Cameron Speaks to Veterans

Prime Minister David Cameron boarded the HMS Belfast this past week to address many veterans who were involved in the Normandy landings of WWII, which are seeing their 70th anniversary in the coming month. He offered several uplifting words of encouragement to the men who had fought so hard to survive seven decades ago, and he compared their triumph to that of good over the forces of evil. The Prime Minister attributed peacetime in Europe almost entirely to the veterans of D-Day.

Many veterans have solemn memories of the landings, during which they were surrounded on almost all sides by vehicles on land, air, and sea. Men were shot, ships were sunk, and the sounds were deafening. The Prime Minister told these men that they were a part of the public’s memories as well, and that even those who were not around for the landings would always pay tribute to those who risked life and limb for the cause of worldwide justice.

Cameron made this address from the deck of the HMS Belfast as a tribute to the fact that the Belfast helped to lead the invasion from sea. Now a portion of the Imperial War Museum, the Belfast saw her decks filled with men who, despite the words of the Prime Minister, thought of themselves more as simple servicemen than heroes. They do not remember the triumph over evil so much as the particulars of the battle, such as the sound and power of the Belfast’s turret, The Telegraph reports.

No one knew what to expect when the invasion began. Some hoped to attain a sort of payback against the Germans for their bombings of Allied lands. The crew of the Belfast was especially able in this respect, as each of their shells weight sixty pounds. The Prime Minister did not speak of revenge, however, choosing to focus on more noble motivations. He also highlighted the courage it must have taken for the man to fight in the face of fear, doubt, and what seemed like certain death.

Prime Minister David Cameron was not present for D-Day, but he did his best to empathize with the veterans who were. Many of them saw death the moment they arrived on the shores, having lost friends as well as men they only just met. While he could not identify with the veterans, the Prime Minister still embodied an important viewpoint—that of today’s generations, learning about an important event that we cannot imagine having experienced firsthand.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE