Weekly Address: Honoring the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day

The President: Hello,
everybody. Today marks an historic
anniversary-70 years since the Allied victory in
Europe during World War II. On V-E Day after
the Nazi surrender, people swarmed the streets
of London and Paris and Moscow, and the cloud of
fear that had hung for so many years finally lifted. Here at home, from small
towns to Times Square, crowds gathered
in celebration, singing and
dancing with joy. There would still be three
more months of deadly fighting in the Pacific. But for a few hours, the
world rejoiced in the hope of peace. General Eisenhower announced
the news with little fanfare. “The Mission of this
Allied Force,” he said, “was fulfilled.” But his simple message
belied the extraordinary nature of the Allied
victory-and the staggering human loss. For over five years, brutal
fighting laid waste to an entire continent. Mothers, fathers,
children were murdered in concentration camps. By the time the guns
fell silent in Europe, some 40 million people
on the continent had lost their lives. Today, we pay tribute
to all who served. They were patriots, like my
grandfather who served in Patton’s Army-soldiers,
sailors, airmen, marines, coast guard, merchant
marines-and the women of the WACs and the WAVES
and every branch. They risked their lives, and
gave their lives so that we, the people the world
over, could live free. They were women who stepped
up in unprecedented numbers, manning the home
front, and-like my grandmother-building
bombers on assembly lines. This was the generation
that literally saved the world-that ended the war and
laid a foundation for peace. This was the generation that
traded in their uniforms for a college education so
they could marry their sweethearts, buy homes,
raise children and build the strongest middle class
the world has ever known. This was the generation that
included heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen, the Navajo
Code Talkers and the Japanese-Americans of the
442nd Regiment-and who continued the fight for
freedom here at home, expanding equality and
opportunity and justice for minorities and women. We will be forever grateful
for what these remarkable men and women did, for the
selfless grace they showed in one of our darkest hours. But as we mark this
70th anniversary, let’s not simply
commemorate history. Let’s rededicate ourselves
to the freedoms for which they fought. Let’s make sure that we keep
striving to fulfill our founding ideals-that we’re a
country where no matter who we are or where we’re from
or what we look like or who we love, if we work hard
and take responsibility, every American will have the
opportunity to make of our lives what we will. Let’s stand united
with our allies, in Europe and beyond,
on behalf of our common values-freedom, security,
democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around
the world-and against bigotry and hatred in all
their forms so that we give meaning to that
pledge: “Never forget. Never again.” Most of all let’s salute
once more to that generation of Americans whose courage
and sacrifice are the reason we’re here today in
peace and freedom. Their spirit lives on in
our brave men and women in uniform and families who
continue to defend the very freedoms our parents and
grandparents fought for. As Americans grateful for
their service let’s truly honor them on this day and
every day with the gratitude they have earned and the
respect that they deserve. May God bless them and may
he continue to bless the United States of America.

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