Commemorating D-Day: Commonwealth Secretary-General reflects on sacrifice, unity, and enduring values

05 June 2024
Wreath laying ceremony at Commonwealth Day 2023

The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland KC, Commonwealth Secretary-General reflects on the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, on the beaches of Normandy, the Allied armed undertook a feat of courage, determination and sacrifice which remains unparalleled in human history. 

Soldiers from across Commonwealth nations stood shoulder to shoulder with their friends, embarking on a mission which would change the course of history. They faced unimaginable horrors, driven by a shared resolve to restore peace and freedom to a world engulfed in tyranny.

The sacrifices made that day, and in the days that followed, were profound. Thousands laid down their lives, and countless others bore the physical and emotional scars of battle. Their bravery and selflessness are etched into the annals of history, reminding us that the freedoms we cherish today were won through the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before us.

Today, in Portsmouth, in the presence of those who survived and remain with us to this day, I joined His Majesty King Charles III as he urged us to “never forget that the soldiers who fought in the campaign launched from this place came from 30 nations, from across the UK, the Commonwealth and Allied countries." 

In honouring the extraordinary sacrifices which were made, and remembering the turning point of the world’s largest and deadliest war, we are reminded of the unwavering spirit of purpose, cooperation and resilience and the enduring values which reflect the best of humanity. 

D-Day is not simply a memory, it shapes our world to this day, and it exemplifies the spirit of cooperation which continues to shape the modern Commonwealth. Diverse nations, united by a common purpose, worked together to achieve a goal that no single country could have accomplished alone. This unity in diversity is a cornerstone of the Commonwealth, reflecting our collective commitment to peace, democracy, and mutual respect.

As we reflect on this historic anniversary, we must also renew our commitment to the values that guided those brave souls 80 years ago. The determination to stand against oppression, the courage to fight for justice, and the willingness to cooperate for the greater good are as vital today as they were then. In a world still fraught with challenges, we must draw inspiration from their example to forge a future built on solidarity and shared purpose.

Let us honour their memory by upholding the principles of the Commonwealth—freedom, democracy, and human rights. May the legacy of D-Day inspire us to work tirelessly for a world where peace and cooperation prevail, and where the sacrifices of the past are forever remembered and revered.