Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech on the D-
Your Grace, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am delighted to be here this afternoon and even more delighted to see that you are here.
June 6th 1944, by any reckoning I think one of the most memorable dates in history, a date that not only changed the course of the Second World War but in so doing it changed our future here in this country and the future of Europe and probably the future of the rest of the world as well. Those allied landings on the beaches of Normandy laid the foundation for the peaceful and the free Europe which today we increasingly take for granted.
I make that point at the outset for this particular reason, because the 50th anniversary of D-
But of course not only them, because I think we should also remember the immense effort made by the whole civilian population, in the factories, in the fields, throughout the whole country the support, the build-
Over the next three months we will have an opportunity to give thanks for the D-
Behind me you will see over here a map illustrating where some of these events are taking place, culminating in London in July with a great family day in Hyde Park. Many hundreds of companies, voluntary organisations, national newspapers and broadcasters are contributing each in their own way to this programme. For one example perhaps amongst many, one newspaper -
The churches too will be playing a key part in involving people. There will be services of thanksgiving in parishes up and down the country on Sunday 5th June and in churches of all denominations. Peels of bells will be rung on that Sunday in parishes right across the land as another evocative and poignant gesture of remembrance.
I was determined from the start that these commemorations should reach out and touch all generations and especially the children of this country. And I wanted it to do that so that they would understand the part, the vitally important part, that D-
Let me just turn finally to the gardens of Grosvenor Square. They are filled with links to our partners in the D-
Behind me, to my right, you will see an artist’s impression of the Grosvenor Square gardens re-
“To us is given the honour of striking a blow for freedom which will live in history and in the better days that lie ahead men will speak with pride of our doings”.
Well so we do and so we should and this spring and this summer that thread of pride will run right the way through our whole D-
I have this afternoon a very simple task. I simply have to unveil over there a stone which bears as its inscription the theme of our celebrations. The inscription I think is very apt, the inscription simply reads: “The nation gives thanks”. I believe that accurately reflects the mood of our celebrations and I believe it accurately reflects the debt that we owe to those people, who, many of them giving their lives, many others taking great risks, fought at that time not just for their own generation but for my generation and successive generations and did so with immense heroism and bravery and were successful.
So I look forward to unveiling the stone and to the celebrations that will follow.