2 comments on “Special Report: V-E Day! Victory In Europe 70th Anniversary

  1. Nation Honors WWII Vets on V-E Day Anniversary

    By Jim Garamone
    DoD News, Defense Media Activity

    WASHINGTON, May 8, 2015 – They may move a little bit slower than they did in 1945, but World War II veterans were out in force today at the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall here to remember their comrades on the 70th anniversary of when the guns stopped in Europe.

    More than 500 veterans turned out — the youngest in their late 80s — to represent the generation that went to war to save liberty and democracy.

    Susan Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, represented President Barack Obama at the ceremony. Katherine Korbel stood in for her sister, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, at the ceremony.

    Rice told the crowd that on V-E Day celebrations were mixed with sorrows for what was lost. “As the news spread, and people poured into the streets to celebrate in New York, London and Paris, cheers and laughter mixed freely with tears,” she said. “[But] even in the midst of one triumph, we vowed to fight on and finish the war in the Pacific.”

    Now 70 years from that turning point America remembers the sacrifices made to preserve freedom, Rice said. She remembered the allies from Britain, Poland, France and resistance movements throughout Europe. She remembered the sacrifices of Russia and the nations that then made up the Soviet Union.

    Legacy of Sacrifices

    “Today, we can celebrate the legacy of their sacrifices. A legacy you could not imagine in 1945,” Rice said. That legacy is not limited to 70 years of peace in Europe, but also the way “the seed of democracy has flourished around the world,” she said.

    The American and Russian soldiers who met at the prisoner of war camp in Torgau, Germany, April 25, 1945, were also witnesses of some of mankind’s most unconscionable acts, Rice said. Hardened soldiers were sickened by what they saw in Dachau and Auschwitz, and “as one world we proclaimed, ‘never again,'” she said. Rice added, “That legacy continues to drive us to stand against atrocities and acts of mass inhumanity.”

    The war changed America at home, Rice said, noting African American soldiers came home and fought for justice and their rights. Women, too, looked at their contributions in the military and in factories and sought more, she said.

    WWII Vets Will be Remembered

    Rice looked at the World War II veterans and said America owes them an unpayable debt. She thanked them in the president’s name and said the story of their generation will never be forgotten.

    “We will continue to tell it to children blessedly untouched by war, so they understand … the price of freedom,” she said.

    Korbel and Albright were both refugees from Hitler’s regime. Their father, Josef, was a Czechoslovakian diplomat forced to flee from Prague when Germany invaded in 1939, Korbel said. The family settled in England where her father advised the Czech government in exile, and as they endured the Blitz in London, Albright believed that no one else would stand up to the Axis.

    “Then one day, wonderful news came from across the sea: a brave nation had answered the call and was on its way to rescue freedom,” Korbel said. “Soon, American soldiers arrived in Britain, bringing with them their boundless energy, confident wisecracks and funny way of walking. On the streets of British cities and towns, children like me trailed along behind them in awe of their uniforms and all that they represented.”

    Allied Invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe

    Korbel noticed that in June 1944 all the Americans were gone suddenly, off to the fight in France.

    “In the months that followed, almost an entire continent lost to evil had to be retaken village by village, hill by hill,” she said. “It was an assault against dug-in positions, amid rain and mud and blood and darkness, winnable only through unbelievable courage and with unbearable losses.”

    Hallmarks of the WWII Generation

    Courage, ingenuity, faith and industry “are the hallmarks of the World War II generation,” Korbel said.

    She said Americans can never forget that “we are recipients of a precious gift from those heroes whose conscience could not accept the theft of liberty or the reality of aggression and genocide.”

    Korbel added, “To be true to those heroes we must never forget why World War II was fought and how it was won. We must maintain solidarity with one another, never allowing our differences to interfere with the most profound values we share. And we must be willing to uphold that principle by defending democratic institutions and values throughout the world.”

    (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

    Related Sites:
    President’s Weekly Address: Honoring the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day
    Special Report: V-E Day Victory in Europe 70th Anniversary

    Related Articles:
    Obama Salutes ‘Greatest Generation’ on V-E Day Anniversary

  2. Obama Salutes ‘Greatest Generation’ on V-E Day Anniversary

    DoD News, Defense Media Activity

    WASHINGTON, May 8, 2015 – “The world rejoiced in the hope of peace” upon the Allies’ acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces during World War II, President Barack Obama said today, marking the 70th anniversary of the victory in Europe during his weekly address.

    “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,” Obama said in his address. “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,” he continued. “But for a few hours, the world rejoiced in the hope of peace.”

    Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower announced Germany’s surrender with little fanfare, noting simply that the Allies’ mission in Europe was fulfilled, the president said.

    But Eisenhower’s message “belied the extraordinary nature of the Allied victory — and the staggering human loss,” Obama said. “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.”

    Paying Tribute ‘to All Who Served’

    Today on V-E Day, “we pay tribute to all who served,” the president said.

    “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,” Obama said. “They risked their lives, and gave their lives so that we, the people the world over, could live free.”

    Those who served to secure Allied victory during World War II, the president said, also included the “women who stepped up in unprecedented numbers, manning the home front, and — like my grandmother — building bombers on assembly lines.”

    The ‘Greatest Generation’

    This was the generation, he said, “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,” the president continued, “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.”

    Rededicate to Freedoms

    The nation and world “will be forever grateful for what these remarkable men and women did, for the selfless grace they showed in one of our darkest hours,” Obama said. “But as we mark this 70th anniversary, let’s not simply commemorate history. Let’s rededicate ourselves to the freedoms for which they fought.

    It’s important for Americans to “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,” the president said.

    He added, “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.”

    (Editors note: Although May 8, 1945, marked Germany’s exit from the war, the Japanese Empire would continue to fight on until its surrender in mid-August and the formal signing of the surrender documents Sept. 2, 1945.)

    Related Sites:
    President’s Weekly Address: Honoring the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day
    Special Report: V-E Day Victory in Europe 70th Anniversary

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