President Trump First Lady Host Flag Ceremony at White House CSPAN July 18, 2019 6:24pm-6:51pm EDT
>> c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, robert bicksby of the concord coalition joins us to talk about the debate over federal spending and the rising debt limit. then nasa chief historian bill barry on the 50th anniversary of the apollo 11 moon mission. nd judge ashlee candor talks about the backlog of immigration cases in court. watch c-span's "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on friday morning. join the discussion. >> the president and first lady participated in a frag lentation ceremony with dutch prime minister mark rutte at the white house. the flag was carried by the first american troops to land on norman diand will be on display at the smithsonian museum of american history.
president trump: thank you very much. thank you. before i begin, i want to apprise everyone of an incident in the strait of hormuz today volving u.s.s. boxer, a navy amphibious assault ship. the boxer took defensive action against an iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew. the dren was immediately destroyed. this is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions
by iran against vessels operating in international waters. the united states reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn iran's attempts to isrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. they also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future. thank you very much. i think you should know that. i'm honored to be here with prime minister mark rutte of the netherlands. fantastic country. incredibly successful country. and so many of our dutch friends who have come with mark, i want to thank you all for being with
us in the east room of the white house. thank you all for being here. appreciate it. thank you. thank you very much. [applause] thank you also to vice president pence and acting secretary of defense richard spencer for joining us. thank you, richard, mike. last month, melania and i traveled to the united kingdom and france to commemorate the 75th anniversary of d-day. together we paid tribute to every courageous patriot who fought to liberate europe from the evil of nazi rule. today on behalf of the american people, i will receive an american flag that flew aboard a ship carrying the first waves of united states servicemens to land in normandy. 75 years after that momentous
day. and that is truly a momentous day. one of the most powerful, most important days in the history of our world. it is my honor to welcome this great american flag back home where it belongs. i want to thank the prime minister as well as u.s. ambassador peter hoekstra. thank you. thank you very much, peter. great job. nd dutch ambassador henrik schauer for being here today and for their devoted efforts to deepen the abiding ties between the united states and the netherlands. our relationship has never been closer than it is today. we're also profoundly moved to be joined by several incredible world war ii veterans who helped defeat the nazis and save freedom for all humanity.
with us is jack goldstein. who served in europe during the war. jack was -- [applause] thank you, jack. thank you. thank you very much, jack. ong with steven melnakof and harold engel, both veterans of the normandy campaign. thank you very much, guys. [applause] and they went on to fight in the netherlands. thank you, fellows. incredible. thank you all three. you look great. young guys. thank you very much. this event would be not possible without the extraordinary generosity of the flags -- flag's two donors from the netherlands, mr. burke kruk and his uncle and business partner,
mr. theo schols. i want to thank you very much. where are they? thank you very much. [applause] and thank you for preserving our history and for watching over the immortal legacy of our d-day heroes. that's what you did. thank you. i know it was expensive. two rich people, i assume, right? i appreciate it. thank you. on june 6, 1944, the flag we receive today flew aboard landing craft control 60 and it was approached and when it approached utah beach. i was there very recently, with the first lady, and it was something incredible to see. commanding the ship was a young navy lieutenant, two days shy of
is 27th birthday, named howard van der beek. amid treacherous german minefields, raging winds, and rough seas, lieutenant van der beek and his crew led an astonishing 19 waves of american troops and equipment to those very, very dangerous beaches. through it all, the flag soared proudly above the waters of the english channel. announcing the arrival of our american warriors. after completing his mission on d-day, lieutenant van der beek took the flag, now bearing the scars of german machine gunfire, and stained all over with dirt and diesel and blood, he carried it with him in his backpack for the remainder of the war and kept the flag until his death in 2014. soon after, the flag was
purchased at auction by mr. kruk and mr. schols, whose relatives were among the hundreds of dutch who perished in the german bombings of rotterdam in 1940. these two gentlemen paid half a million dollars to obtain the flag just so they could return it as a gift to the american people and to the united states of america. as they explained, they wanted to thank the united states for the extraordinary sacrifice our servicemens made to liberate their nation and all of europe in world war ii. so nice. thank you very much. so nice. thousands of americans gave their lives on d-day and many thousands more gave their lives to drive the nazis from the netherlands. following today's ceremony, the extraordinary flag will be
displayed at the smithsonian's museum of american history, and very proudly. with us this afternoon are secretary of the sith smithsonian, a friend of mine, lonnie bunch. thank you very much for being here. thank you. and director of the museum of anthea hartog.y, thank you very much. i know they'll take great care of this priceless american artifact. thank you very much for being here. i know they share mr. kruk's vision for the flag. as he said, it will tell visitors from around the world about the story of freedom. with their help this wonderful flag will be preserved forever and ever in american history as it should be. it will always be a reminder of
the supreme sacrifice of our warriors and the beautiful friendship between the dutch and the american people. and now i would like to introduce a very special man, a man i've gotten to know very well during our strong negotiations on trade and our negotiations on the military and nato and all the other things we have been talking about for so long, it seems like right now. prime minister, very, very popular in his country, a great gentleman, and he can say a few words and then mr. kruk and secretary bunch will tell us more about the treasured gift they have presented us with. thank you all, god bless america. mr. prime minister? [applause] prime minister rutte: mr. president, first lady, vice
president. 70 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 ur 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 mutsing while countless grenades exploded and machine guns fired.
death, chaos and terror surrounded them. 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. with this flag, we present to you, -- 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 hit by enemy fire like all those allied soldiers. this flag survived. and it prevailed. and thanks to mr. kruk who became the flag's owner, we stand here today to hand it back to you. a symbol of the unique bond
between the united states and europe, a bond that stretches across the atlantic. it's also a symbol of the close bond between the u.s. and the netherlands. our countries stand shoulder-to-shoulder when times are tough. centuries ago, the netherlands was one of the first countries to support a young american republic striving for independence. and in our darkest hour, 5 years ago, thousands of brave american soldiers crossed the atlantic to fight for our freedom. they brought this flag with them. 75 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. mr. ld like to introduce
kruk to make his remarks. [applause] >> thank you, mr. president, first lady, mr. vice president, distinguished guests. it is an honor to be among heroes. i have had the privilege when i became the owner of one of the most important american flags in history, the flag that was hoisted on the leading vessel that on d-day first reached the beaches of normandy. with it, i accepted the responsibility for its legacy nd its ultimate destination. i'm honored to speak here today.
to be here at the white house, where 75 years ago a decision was taken that led to the freedom of any nation and the of world war ii, a war that claimed so many lives, including several members of our family. 870 words to describe the meaning of this flag. five minutes to remember the victims of war and honor the sacrifices made by young american soldiers. when they stormed the beaches of normandy, certain death was waiting for them. but they gave us freedom. a legacy anchored in the lasting awareness that our freedom was not free. that it came at a price. their lives. lives cut short by heroism. as beneficiaries of their heroism, we grew up and lived in
democratic and free societies. that is proof of true greatness. the ability to bend history for the future fortunes of nations and of mankind that greatness is embodied in this flag. a symbol of inclusiveness that united states us with the -- that unites us with the knowledge that sacrifices were made for all of us. can anyone say thank you in 870 words? no country or person is without challenge but in the presence of this flag, we know that we are capable to dream, fight, to vercome, and to succeed. my life, ladies and gentlemen, was one of many challenges, so standing here today was a long shot. but thanks to free throw dom, i could fly high. thanks to my uncle, my mentor, my deems became reality. thanks to the opportunity given to me by this country, i was able to achieve the american
dream. how can i say thank you in 870 words? i progressed in life through many lessons, one of many is that success is never giving up that victory is never accepting defeat. meaningful words. but on d-day, they meant the difference between life and death. for me, it eventually led to the possibility to secure the flag and become its guardian. there is no greater honor to be allowed to carry that responsibility. a responsibility that has strengthened the presence of humility in my life. for that, i say thank you. but how can i say thank you to someone who is no longer among us, who is not here today, to someone who gave his life for our freedom and never came home? who was deprived of his american dream and gave that opportunity
to me instead. in 870 words. there are not enough words to honor a hero or remember victims of war wherever they rest, here in arlington, normandy, the netherlands or any other place. but through that, they connect a special relationship between the netherlands and the united states from occupation to liberation. 870 words. sometimes it's just enough to say nothing and reflect upon a single, freedom. a flag soiled through smoke and oil, pierced with bullet holes, ripped by the wind. for many of you, this will be the first time you will see the flag. for those who gave their lives in the mud of normandy, it was the last time. the last piece of america that they would ever see again. this flag.
greatness will shine on long after we are all done. its story told for generations to come. not in 870 words, not in five minutes, but with the inexhaustible freedom surrounded by honor and hope of enduring peace. my role in returning the flag will always have been temporary. its legacy, however, will last. 870 words, five minutes, to show my gratitude to a nation that carried so much of the burden in our free throw dom, a nation hat means so much to me. it was once said, you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. so today, i finish the work assigned to me and retire from an amazing duty. but there's one inevitable conclusion. to donate the flag to its rightful place in the united states of america. the country from where it left
>> i wish i was taller. what a wonderful gift this is. president trump, prime minister rutte, let me begin by thanking you for helping to bring such an important piece of america back to the smithsonian. i appreciate all the work of the ambassadors from the united states and the netherlands that really made sure that this would happen. but the smithsonian is greatly indebted to mr. kreuk and mr. schols for their generosity in donating this piece of history. candidly, one of the goals of the smithsonian is simple. to help america to remember. to remember moments such as d-day that forever shaped our nation. it is my -- it is my honor of behalf of the sithson --
smithsonian on behalf of the museum to accept this flag into the collections of the museum of american history. the items in the smithsonian speak volumes about the power of remembering. these artifacts teach us lessons about history and about ourselves. whether it is the gavel that susan anthony used to chair women's suffrage conventions or the greensboro lunch county that students used to demand simple justice. or the apollo 11 command module that proved that nothing was beyond the creativity and reach of america. this flag helps all who will encounter it to remember a time when the future of freedom was in doubt. we think so much of the lieutenant who knew the stakes when the led the vessel that led the charge to utah beach. it's amazing to me he survived the invasion and became the
symbol of the american dream. a dutch immigrant with became a college professor, who raised a family, who gave his all for this country. this flag reminds us of the courage of people who were soldiers during world war ii, who embodied not only the best of our nation, but the best of humanity. so on this year commemorating the allied landing on normandy 75 years ago this flag is a fitting tribute, not just to him, but to all who risked their live for freedom. when it goes on exhibit in the museum of american history's d-day exhibition, it will remind visitors that we are stronger when we gin together to overcome the forces of darkness. when our common human decency outshines ignorance and fear. and when our better angels prevail. so let me say on behalf of the smithsonian, it is a great honor to accept this flag and we are just so humbled and pleased to
be the place that will help the world always remember what it means to be an american. thank you very much. [applause] president trump: this is a very important moment. i want to thank you all for being here. i will see you soon. i'll see you at the museum. lonnie, thank you very much. mr. prime minister, thank you. ♪
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