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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

New Lawsuit Against ‘Reparations’

Judicial Watch Sues for Emails of Fauci Advisor on Non-Government Account
Judicial Watch Files Class Action Lawsuit over Reparations in Evanston, Illinois
Judicial Watch Asks Minnesota Supreme Court to Allow Taxpayer Lawsuit over Racially Discriminatory Minneapolis Teachers’ Contract to Proceed to Trial
Trump Trial: The Prosecution Rests, Lawfare at Court, Where’s the Crime?
Memorial Day – ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee’


Judicial Watch Sues for Emails of Fauci Advisor on Non-Government Account

In an echo of the Hillary Clinton email scandal, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) for official emails in the personal email account of senior advisor to Anthony Fauci David Morens(Judicial Watch Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:24-cv-01203)). Fauci was director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, from 1984 to 2022.

We sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of HHS, failed to respond to an October 25, 2023, FOIA request for: “All work-related emails sent to and from NIAID Senior Advisor David Morens on non-government email accounts.”

The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on April 16, 2024, issued a subpoena to Morens, stating:

On June 29, 2023, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic … requested information pertaining to your use of personal e-mail. In response to that request, you voluntarily participated in a transcribed interview on January 18, 2024, and produced a portion of the requested documents on November 20, 2023.


[T]he Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability has authorized the attached subpoena, compelling your production of certain documents and information by April 30, 2024.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), chairman of the subcommittee, issued a press release regarding the subpoena, stating:

Recent whistleblower allegations revealed new, additional evidence that Dr. Morens intentionally used his personal email to hide conversations about the origins of COVID-19 and subvert federal transparency laws. Last week, Dr. Morens’s self-proclaimed “best friend” — EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak — released four document tranches that confirmed the whistleblower’s allegations. Notably, Dr. Daszak is at the center of controversy related to his use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund dangerous gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

On April 19, 2024, the committee released an email between Morens and EcoHealth President Peter Daszak, containing “confidential” information that Fauci had been briefed about biosafety labs.

And, perhaps not conicidentally, congressional investigators just released emails showing that Morens collaborated with the agency’s “FOIA lady” to ensure certain documents would not be disclosed to the public!

Our FOIA lawsuits and investigations have uncovered much of what the public knows about many Covid-19 controversies:

  • On April 19, 2024, we reported that it received records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in a FOIA request that showed an April 2020 email exchange with several officials in the bureau’s Newark Field Office referring to Fauci’s NIAID grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China as including “gain-of-function research” which “would leave no signature of purposeful human manipulation.”
  • Emails between U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and top Facebook executives in 2021 regarding the censorship of user posts about Covid controversies showed Facebook leadership seeking to “better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.”
  • Records from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that a Pfizer study surveyed 23 people in 2021 to gauge reactions to its Covid vaccine booster before asking the FDA to approve it.
  • Records from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) included the initial grant application and annual reports to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from EcoHealth Alliance, describing the aim of its work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology to create mutant viruses “to better predict the capacity of our CoVs [coronaviruses] to infect people.”
  • HHS records included emails of then-Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins showing a British physicians’ group recommended the use of Ivermectin to prevent and treat Covid-19.
  • Heavily redacted HHS records showed that just two days prior to FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine a discussion was held between U.S. and UK health regulators regarding the Covid shot and “anaphylaxis,” with the regulators emphasizing their “mutual confidentiality agreement.”
  • We obtained HHS records regarding data Moderna submitted to the FDA on its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, which indicated a “statistically significant” number of rats were born with skeletal deformities after their mothers were injected with the vaccine. The documents also revealed Moderna elected not to conduct a number of standard pharmacological studies on the laboratory test animals.
  • Heavily redacted records from the FDA regarding the Covid-19 booster vaccine detailed pressure on Covid booster use and approval.
  • HHS records detailed internal discussions about myocarditis and the Covid vaccine. Other documents detailed adverse “events for which a contributory effect of the vaccine could not be excluded.”
  • We uncovered HHS records detailing the extensive media plans for a Biden administration propaganda campaign to push the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • HHS records revealed previously redacted locations of Covid-19 vaccine testing facilities in Shanghai, China. The FDA had claimed the name and location of the testing facilities were protected by the confidential commercial information exemption of the FOIA.
  • NIH records showed an FBI “inquiry” into the NIH’s controversial bat coronavirus grant tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The records also showed National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officials were concerned about “gain-of-function” research in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2016. The Fauci agency was also concerned about EcoHealth Alliance’s lack of compliance with reporting rules and use of gain-of-function research in the NIH-funded research involving bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, China.
  • Texas Public Information Act (PIA) records showed the former director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), James W. Le Duc, warned Chinese researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology of potential investigations into the Covid issue by Congress.
  • HHS records regarding biodistribution studies and related data for the Covid-19 vaccines showed how a key component of the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), were found outside the injection site, mainly the liver, adrenal glands, spleen and ovaries of test animals, eight to 48 hours after injection.
  • Records obtained from HHS through a FOIA lawsuit related to hydroxychloroquine and Covid-19 revealed that a grant to EcoHealth Alliance was canceled because of press reports that a portion of the grant was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
  • HHS records revealed that from 2014 to 2019, $826,277 was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research by the NIAID.
  • NIAID records showed that it gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the NIH’s top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself. The records also included an email from the vice director of the Wuhan Lab asking an NIH official for help finding disinfectants for decontamination of airtight suits and indoor surfaces.
  • HHS records included an “urgent for Dr. Fauci” email chain, citing ties between the Wuhan lab and the taxpayer-funded EcoHealth Alliance. The government emails also reported that the foundation of U.S. billionaire Bill Gates worked closely with the Chinese government to pave the way for Chinese-produced medications to be sold outside China and help “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”
  • Our four-part documentary regarding the coordinated effort by the government and Big Tech to censor and suppress information on topics such as Hunter Biden’s laptop, Covid-19, and election debates is available here.

You can see that Judicial Watch is the national leader in exposing the terrible government secrecy and misconduct tied to Covid.  The latest developments about secret emails and FOIA evasion shows our work is not done.


Judicial Watch Files Class Action Lawsuit over Reparations in Evanston, Illinois

Evanston, Illinois, has gotten into the reparations game, and we’re taking steps to shut it down.

Judicial Watch filed a class action lawsuit against the city on behalf of six individuals over the city’s use of race as an eligibility requirement for a reparations program which makes $25,000 payments to black residents and descendants of black residents who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969.

The civil rights lawsuit challenges “on Equal Protection grounds Defendant City of Evanston’s use of race as an eligibility requirement for a program that makes $25,000 payments to residents and direct descendants of residents of the city five-plus decades if not more than a century ago. Plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring Defendant’s use of race to be unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs also seek an injunction enjoining Defendant from continuing to use race as a requirement for receiving payment under the program and request that the Court award them and all class members damages in the amount of $25,000 each.”

Through a series of resolutions, the Evanston City Council created a program to provide $25,000 cash payments to residents who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The program violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because:

Remedying societal discrimination is not a compelling governmental interest.  Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469, 505 (1989); see also Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 307 ((1978) (opinion of Powell, J.) (describing “societal discrimination” as “an amorphous concept of injury that may be ageless in its reach into the past.”)  Remedying discrimination from 55 to 105 years ago or remedying discrimination experienced at any time by an individual’s parents, grandparents, or great grandparents has not been recognized as a compelling governmental interest…

Defendant also has not and cannot demonstrate that its use of a race as an eligibility requirement is narrowly tailored.  Among other shortcomings, Defendant’s use of race as a proxy for experiencing discrimination between 1919 and 1969 does not limit eligibility to persons who actually experienced discrimination during that relevant time period and therefore is overinclusive.  Defendant also failed to consider race-neutral alternatives, such as requiring prospective recipients to show that they or their parents, grandparents, or great grandparents actually experienced housing discrimination during the relevant time period because of an Evanston ordinance, policy, or procedure, as Defendant requires for the third group of prospective recipients.  Nor did Defendant take into account race-neutral anti-discrimination remedies before adopting its race-based eligibility requirement.

The first group of persons eligible for the $25,000 payments are current Evanston residents who identify as Black or African American and were at least 18 years of age between 1919 and 1969. Evanston refers to this group as “ancestors.”

The second group are individuals who identify as Black or African American who are at least 18 years of age and have at least one parent, grandparent, or great grandparent who identifies (or identified) as Black or African American, lived in Evanston for any period between 1919 and 1969, and was at least 18 at the time. Evanston refers to this group as “direct descendants.” A “direct descendant” is not required to be a current resident of Evanston to receive the payment.

We argue in the lawsuit: “At no point in the application process are persons in the first and second groups required to present evidence that they or their ancestors experienced housing discrimination or otherwise suffered harm because of an unlawful Evanston ordinance, policy, or procedure or some other unlawful act or series of acts by Evanston between 1919 and 1969. In effect, Evanston is using race as a proxy for having experienced discrimination during this time period.”

The city committed $20 million to the program.

We state in the lawsuit that the six plaintiffs satisfy all eligibility requirements for participating in the program as “direct descendants” other than the race requirement (the actual number of individuals who are potential class members is in the tens of thousands).

The Evanston, Illinois’ ‘reparations’ program is nothing more than a ploy to redistribute tax dollars to individuals based on race. This scheme unconstitutionally discriminates against anyone who does not identify as Black or African American. This class action, civil rights lawsuit will be a historic defense of our color-blind Constitution.

Our lawsuits challenging unconstitutional discrimination are extensive.

On January 29, 2024, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of San Francisco taxpayers over a city program that discriminates in favor of biological black and Latino men who identify as women in the distribution of tax money. The lawsuit was filed after Judicial Watch earlier forced the release of records from the City of San Francisco showing the city prioritized tax money for black and Latino transgenders (biological men) in the Guaranteed Income for Trans People program.

In December 2023, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling and allowed our historic lawsuit filed on behalf of a Minneapolis taxpayer over a teachers’ contract that provides discriminatory job protections to certain racial minorities to proceed.

The City of Asheville, NC, in January 2022 settled a Judicial Watch federal civil rights lawsuit after agreeing to remove all racially discriminatory provisions in a city-funded scholarship program. Additionally, the city also agreed to remove racially discriminatory eligibility provisions in a related program that provides grants to educators.

In May 2022, we won a court battle against California’s gender quota law for corporate boards. The verdict came after a 28-day trial. The verdict followed a similar ruling in Judicial Watch’s favor in April finding California’s diversity mandate for corporate boards unconstitutional.


Judicial Watch Asks Minnesota Supreme Court to Allow Taxpayer Lawsuit over Racially Discriminatory Minneapolis Teachers’ Contract to Proceed to Trial

We filed a brief in the Minnesota Supreme Court asking it to affirm a state Appeals Court decision allowing its taxpayer lawsuit over a racially discriminatory Minneapolis teachers’ contract to proceed to trial (Deborah Jane Clapp v. Rochelle Cox et al. (No. A23-0360).

On December 4, 2023, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of our historic lawsuit filed on behalf of a Minneapolis taxpayer over the teachers’ contract, and allowed the case to proceed to trial. The contract provides discriminatory job protections to certain racial minorities (Clapp v. Cox et al. (No. 27-CV-22-12454)).

We originally filed the lawsuit in August 2022 against the superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Minneapolis Board of Education (together referenced as “MPS”) for violating the Equal Protection Guarantee of the Minnesota Constitution. MPS, supported by the teachers and other public employee unions, assert that Minnesota taxpayers don’t have the right to challenge the illegal spending of taxpayer money by government officials.

In our brief to the Supreme Court, we argue:

Minneapolis Public Schools and its Amici spill a lot of ink complaining that a “complete stranger” has sued to prevent MPS from carrying out an unconstitutional provision of a contract between it and its teachers. Plaintiff-Respondent Deborah Clapp, however, is not a stranger. She is a Minneapolis taxpayer, and this Court, since at least 1877, has recognized taxpayers as proper parties to bring such actions in Minnesota courts. This Court should not accept MPS’s and its Amici’s invitation to undermine this important check on government power.


Clapp could not have brought a more straightforward case. She alleges that she lives in Minneapolis and pays property tax on the home she has owned since 2017…She also alleges that Minneapolis Public Schools is funded in part by her tax dollars…In addition, she alleges that MPS spends those tax dollars to carry out the various provisions of its contract with the teachers’ union….Finally, she alleges that one of those provisions violates the Minnesota Constitution….Therefore, she alleges that her tax dollars are being used in an unlawful manner.

The December 2023 Appellate Court ruling came after the Hennepin County District Court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that our taxpayer client lacked standing and that her claims were not ripe. We appealed, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal of the case.

The controversial contract was agreed to in March 2022 to end a 14-day teacher strike. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers ratified the contract shortly after the agreement was reached. The Minneapolis Board of Education ratified it in May 2022.  The contract was recently renewed with the racial discrimination provisions intact.

Our initial complaint asked the District Court to enter a judgment declaring all actions taken to implement the racial and ethnic preference provisions of Article 15 of the contract to be illegal. The lawsuit also asks that the court declare illegal the use of any taxpayer dollars to implement these provisions of the contract and that MPS be prohibited from taking any actions to implement these racial and ethnic provisions. Our complaint states:

Among other things, the contract provides preferences, protections, and privileges for MPS teachers of certain races and ethnicities under a section entitled “ARTICLE 15. PROTECTIONS FOR EDUCATORS OF COLOR.” There is no similar provision covering educators who are not “of color.”

Under the contract, teachers of color are exempt from Defendant MPS’s seniority-based layoffs and reassignments, which means, when layoffs or reassignments occur, the next senior teacher who is not “of color” would be laid off or reassigned. In addition, the contract mandates that Defendants reinstate teachers of color over more senior teachers who are not “of color.”

Under the appeals court ruling, the lawsuit was to go back to Hennepin County District Court for further proceedings, but MPS appealed the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court before those proceedings could commence.

There is a leftist cadre of government and public employee union officials in Minneapolis who want to engage in lawless woke, anti-white discrimination – and they want to deprive taxpayers of their rights to stop the abuse. Our lawsuit aims to shut down an extreme leftist attack on the bedrock constitutional principle that no one can be denied equal treatment under the law on account of race.

We are assisted in the lawsuit by Daniel N. Rosen.

Our lawsuits and FOIA requests on Critical Race Theory and other leftist extremism are extensive.

In April 2024, Judicial Watch presented oral argument to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in the case filed on behalf of Kari MacRae, a Massachusetts high school teacher who was fired in retaliation for posts on social media that predated her employment at Hanover High School.

On February 5, 2024, Judicial Watch filed a public records lawsuit in the Superior Court for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, against the City of Boston after the city failed to produce records related to the “Electeds of Color Holiday Party” hosted by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu in December 2023.

(USAFA), a component of the United States Department of Defense, which included instructional materials and emails that address topics such as Critical Race Theory, “white privilege,” and Black Lives Matter.

In March 2023, records from the U.S. Department of Defense showed the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) had made race and gender instruction a top priority in the training of cadets.

We filed a California Public Records Act lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District for records on a racially segregated “playdate” held on August 26, 2023, by one of the district’s elementary schools.

The City of Asheville, NC, in January 2022 settled a Judicial Watch federal civil rights lawsuit after agreeing to remove all racially discriminatory provisions in a city-funded scholarship program. Additionally, the city also agreed to remove racially discriminatory eligibility provisions in a related program that provides grants to educators.

In May 2022, we won a court battle against California’s gender quota law for corporate boards. The verdict came after a 28-day trial. The verdict followed a similar ruling in Judicial Watch’s favor in April finding California’s diversity mandate for corporate boards unconstitutional.


Trump Trial: The Prosecution Rests, Lawfare at Court, Where’s the Crime?

We don’t have to assert that the prosecution of Donald Trump in New York is political. The words and actions of the judge and prosecutors are doing it for us. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative correspondent, reports in Investigative Bulletin.

The Trump prosecution rested its case Monday with a central question unanswered: where’s the crime?

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been dancing around the question for months. The prosecution produced a cacophony of tawdry testimony from a porn star (Stormy Daniels) and a former Trump aide turned convicted felon turned cooperating witness (Michael Cohen) but their claims had little to do with the allegations at the center of the case. Trump is charged with thirty-four felony counts of falsifying business records, generally a low-level misdemeanor. But New York state law elevates the misdemeanor charge to a felony if the defendant’s “intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime,” and that’s where Bragg has placed his big bet.

That other crime? Bragg insists he doesn’t have to name it. The “law does not so require,” he said at a news conference announcing the indictment—and in a court filing he doubled down, citing a legal finding that there is “no requirement” to “establish what particular crime was intended.” Good luck putting that one past a jury of New Yorkers.

Bragg has offered several theories of “another crime.”

“The primary crime we have alleged is New York state election law section 17-152,” a Bragg prosecutor told the court in the opening days of the trial. “The entire case is predicated on the idea that there was a conspiracy to influence the election in 2016.”

But Trump is not charged with an election law violation, and Bragg is on shaky legal ground with a 17-152 prosecution. A Washington Post search revealed only three prosecutions in forty-five years for violation of the statute. In one case, the defendant was acquitted; in the two others, charges were dropped.

Bragg also has suggested Trump violated federal campaign finance laws. In a court filing, Bragg alleged that Trump violated the federal Election Campaign Act by purchasing and suppressing “damaging information” from porn star Stormy Daniels. Other prosecutors have looked at this attempt to stretch a state charge to include a federal crime with skepticism. Both Bragg’s predecessor as Manhattan DA, Cy Vance, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to charge Trump in the case.

Mark Pomerantz, a senior Vance prosecutor who resigned after differences with Bragg on Trump prosecutions, is dismissive of the state-federal gambit. In his book, “People vs. Donald Trump,” Pomerantz writes that the DA’s office spent a lot of time on the “gnarly legal question” of whether the “other crime” clause on the New York state books could be expanded to cover a federal crime. The issue has “never been litigated,” Pomerantz notes, and “no one could predict with certainty how an appellate court might eventually rule.”

Bragg’s third “another crime” gambit is perhaps the strangest: tax fraud. In a “Statement of Facts” accompanying the Trump indictment, Bragg suggests that Trump violated New York tax laws by conspiring with Michael Cohen to file a fraudulent tax return “that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the payments made in furtherance of the scheme” to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels. Cohen, according to Bragg, paid Stormy Daniels $130,000. But Trump repaid Cohen $420,000. Why? According to the DA, so Cohen could then “characterize the payment as income on his tax returns, instead of a reimbursement,” leaving Cohen with a tidy $180,000 profit.

Jacob Sullum notes in Reason: if “Cohen mischaracterized a reimbursement as income on state or city tax forms, that would be a peculiar sort of fraud, since the effect would be to increase his tax liability. This theory of ‘another crime’ requires jurors to accept the proposition that tax fraud can entail paying the government more than was actually owed.”

Cohen admitted in court Monday to stealing money from the Trump Organization, an admission that damages the prosecution’s key witness.

Can Bragg overcome Cohen’s credibility problems and sway the jury? The cards are stacked in Bragg’s favor. The DA, his top prosecutor, and the judge all have close ties to a Democratic Party that apparently will stop at nothing to inflict damage on the Republican presidential frontrunner.

Judicial Watch has reported on Bragg’s strong ties to New York progressive politics. As New York state’s chief deputy attorney general, he helped lead a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation that resulted in its closure and a $2 million fine. In August 2022, he convicted Trump Organization chief financial officer Allan Weisselberg on charges of tax fraud and falsifying business records. In December 2022, he convicted the Trump Organization on charges related to off-the-books payments to Weisselberg and others. Bragg makes no secret of his anti-Trump bias. “I’ve sued Trump more than a hundred times,” he’s proudly noted.

In December 2022, Bragg recruited senior Justice Department official Matthew Colangelo—the lead prosecutor in the current trial—for the Trump prosecution team. In the Biden Administration, Colangelo served as acting associate attorney general and principal associate attorney general. Prior to going to Washington, Colangelo worked on the New York state attorney general’s investigation of the Trump Foundation. In 2018, Colangelo was paid $12,000 for “political consulting” by the Democratic National Committee. In the Obama White House years, he served as deputy director of the National Economic Council, chief of staff at the Labor Department, and deputy associate attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The presiding judge at the Trump trial, Juan Merchan, found himself in hot water earlier this year when news emerged that his daughter, Loren Merchan, was president of a left-wing digital advertising firm, Authentic Campaigns. The firm has close ties to high-profile Democrats, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Adam Schiff. Trump vigorously protested and Merchan responded with a gag order. His daughter aside, Merchan himself is worth a closer look. Like virtually all New York judges, he came up through the ranks of the Democratic Party’s political machine. Though considerably weakened by decades of fitful corruption reform, machine politics still plays a big role in the state’s judicial appointments. Merchan began his career as a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office, moved on to the state attorney general’s office, and was appointed a family court judge by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006. In 2009, he was appointed to his current position at criminal court. In July, Merchan received a “caution” letter from the New York Commission of Judicial Conduct warning him about donations to Joe Biden and other Democratic causes.

Will any of this matter when the Trump case goes to the jury? Judges and prosecutors have many ways of putting a thumb on the scale of justice. But juries famously often surprise, and no-nonsense New Yorkers—even those from deep blue Manhattan—may look with considerable skepticism at a courtroom that appears to be piling on a famous defendant and a prosecutor who won’t even name the crime at the heart of the case.


Memorial Day – ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee’

Memorial Day helps us ponder the ultimate sacrifice of untold numbers of fellow American patriots who gave their lives to preserve and defend our God-given freedoms and our constitutional republic.

As we honor those heroes next week, I thought it would be appropriate to honor them while looking forward to the 80thAnniversary of D-Day.  I reproduce below President Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 speech (on the 40th Anniversary), honoring the “Boys of Pointe du Hoc”:

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers—the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life… and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

I think I know what you may be thinking right now—thinking “we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day.” Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren’t. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him—Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, “Sorry I’m a few minutes late,” as if he’d been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he’d just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England’s armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard’s “Matchbox Fleet” and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge—and pray God we have not lost it—that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought—or felt in their hearts, though they couldn’t know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rockhard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together.

There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall plan led to the Atlantic alliance—a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose—to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It’s fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

I wish you a safe and blessed Memorial Day.

Until next week,


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