At the start of his address to commemoration of V-E Day, the President said, “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.”
He noted that General Eisenhower announced the news with little fanfare. “The Mission of this Allied Force,” he said, “was fulfilled.”
The President explained that this simple message belied the extraordinary nature of the Allied victory—and the staggering human loss. He underscored the fact that 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,” he posited.
“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,” President Obama stated.
He declared that that generation literally saved the world—that ended the war and laid a foundation for peace.
Moreover, he pointed to the fact that it was that 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,” he continued.
He further said, “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,” he implored.
He concluded, “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.”
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