This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tomorrow, we commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day, when the United States and its allies launched the largest amphibious invasion in history. President Obama travels to Normandy tomorrow to mark the day, but as we await the event we thought we would honor another landmark moment that took place on those shores.
Here is now a very special tribute to the speech delivered by President Ronald Reagan that marked the 40th anniversary of D-Day back in 1984.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue.
• Video: Watch Reagan's speech and Sean's interview
Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
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.
And the American Rangers began to climb. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. They knew what awaited them there. They would not be deterred. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two 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.
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? We look at you, and, somehow, we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love. 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.
Something else helped the men at D-Day, the rock-hard belief that providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here, that God was an ally in this great cause. These are the things that impelled them. These are the things that shaped the unity of the allies.
Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy.
We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is be here, ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost.
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 us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died. Thank you very much, and God bless you.
HANNITY: And that is, without question, one of the greatest presidential speeches in history, and for President Obama, that is a very tough act to follow.
I am joined now by a presidential historian, Dr. Douglas Brinkley, and he is the editor of "The Reagan Diaries," which is now available in paperback.
Doctor Brinkley, good to see you. Welcome.
DR. DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thanks for having me.
HANNITY: You know, I listen to Reagan, and I absorb what he's saying, and I compare him to President Obama. They're at opposite ends in my mind. I know it's early in his presidency, but they're very different men coming from very different perspectives. Do you see the same thing?
BRINKLEY: Well, they both claimed Illinois in their past history, and they're both known for being great orators.
Incidentally, Sean, that speech you just played, that's the famous "Boys of Pointe du Hoc" one. He gave a second speech that day, just as moving, at Omaha Beach. Peggy Noonan wrote that one you just played. And then Tony Dolan wrote the second one.
What Reagan and Obama share is an ability to communicate with people. Reagan, in this particular moment in 1984, he just hit it out of the park with a speech. It was an election year. It was broadcast live on morning television, and it brought a wellspring of interest to the World War II generation. Before there was Tom Brokaw or Steven Ambrose or Spielberg, this was the speech that made America say thank you to the World War II vets.
And it was a healing speech in the sense that Vietnam had torn the country apart, right versus left, and Reagan, when he's talking about morning again in America, or looking at their heroic efforts, particularly of the 2nd Rangers climbing the cliffs, saw this as an American triumphalist moment. And as you just played, it still is a moving speech to listen to.
HANNITY: Can we compare the Cairo speech earlier this week of Barack Obama? The apology for that America has shown arrogance comments? America is to blame for violence on the border? It seemed that Reagan always was promoting America's goodness, America's greatness, America's sacrifice, America's defense of the cause of liberty and tyranny. It seems Barack Obama is far more apologetic for America.
BRINKLEY: Well, I mean, keep in mind, in 1984, the Cold War was still on when Reagan gave this speech, and I think what Reagan was trying to accomplish on his European journey was — he had always felt that the situation after World War II was incomplete, that in the Cold War, half of Europe was liberated. But Reagan was worried about the people of Poland and Romania and Bulgaria. And in many ways, he wanted to finish the job.
After, of course, the speech begins the great Reagan diplomacy with Gorbachev. And I think you see Obama here taking — if the Cold War was Reagan's war at that moment in '84, on this trip to Normandy, Barack Obama's been connecting it to a Middle East trip. And also, getting Sarkozy, perhaps, back involved with NATO.
HANNITY: It was one of the greatest speeches Reagan every gave, but he gave many of them. And — and he truly understood the sacrifice of our brave men for the cause of liberty and expressed it about as well as you possibly could there.
So thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. Thank you.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
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