President Donald Trump on Thursday, July 18, welcomed the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte to the White House, where the president accepted an incredible gift.
“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 service members to land in Normandy,” President Trump said. “Seventy-five years after that momentous day,” this great piece of American history is “back home where it belongs.”
He added, “On June 6, 1944, the flag we receive today flew aboard Landing Craft Control 60. 75 years after that 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.”
This 48-Star banner is an important symbol of perhaps the most storied military victory for the free world. On June 6, 1944, the flag President Trump received flew aboard Landing Craft Control 60 as it approached Normandy. The ship was commanded by a young Navy lieutenant, two days shy of his 27th birthday, named Howard Vander Beek.
“Amid treacherous German minefields, raging winds, and rough seas, Lt. Vander Beek and his crew led an astonishing 19 waves of American troops and equipment to those very, very dangerous beaches,” the president explained. “Through it all, this flag soared proudly above the waters of the English Channel, announcing the arrival of our American warriors.”
After the D-Day mission was complete, Vander Beek carried the flag with him through the end of the war. It stayed in his possession until he passed away in 2014.
According to the White House, this same flag—which still bears scars from German gunfire and stains from American blood—is being returned home, where it will be on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
“It will always be a reminder of the supreme sacrifice of our warriors, and the beautiful friendship between the Dutch and the American people,” President Trump said.
First Lady Melania Trump also shared on her fan page, saying, “A beautiful piece of history returned home today. Thank you PM Rutte for presenting an American flag that flew aboard a US Navy Ship on D-Day.”