Speech at Concert Celebrating the 64th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Dear war veterans, comrades, friends,
First of all, I would like to congratulate you from all my heart on the Victory Day and wish you good health and good spirits.
We are celebrating our most cherished and sacred holiday together once again. It is a revered and heartfelt holiday for our people. I am certain that the feeling of pride and common involvement in this great feat of victory will be with our people forever.
The heroic deeds during the war, and the memories of them will be handed down from generation to generation with a sense of gratitude toward those who defended the freedom and independence of our country, those who fought on the fronts and laboured in the back lands, those who fought in partisan groups and joined the underground resistance, those who rescued and cared for the wounded, and those who endured unimaginable hardships and saw countless lives lost during the terrible years of that war.
The history of the Great Patriotic War is not simply a timeline of battles. Dearest veterans, this history is shaped by the stories of your lives. Each of you has your own personal story of making it through the war, a story filled with sorrow and self-denial, loyalty and solidarity between warriors. And today, you are living examples of strong moral courage and commitment to your Motherland. Each of you contributed to the victory. It is the government’s duty – our duty – to assure that you have a dignified life. As you know, we are trying to do everything possible to make this happen.
Dear friends, the memory of that war is stronger than time. The war took many millions of lives, and to this day, families seek out the places where their fathers and grandfathers lost their lives. We are still burying soldiers from what I hope will be our last world war, and we bow our heads before the memory of those who died in battle, those who perished from their wounds or from hunger, and those who were tortured in concentration camps.
We will never forget that our country – the Soviet Union – made the input that decided the outcome of the Second World War. It was our people who destroyed Nazism, and it was our nation that saved the entire world, paying an enormous price for this. We will forever cherish and hold onto this truth about the war. Nobody should ever doubt its veracity.
Our obligation is to ensure that no new wars ever take place, and to do everything in our power to create a modern system of international security. As you know, Russia has suggested several initiatives in this regard, including signing a special European security treaty.
We will continue to modernise and strengthen our Armed Forces. They must be capable of defending Russia’s sovereignty, ensuring calm, normal lives for our people, and fending off any aggression directed against our nation.
Dear veterans, dear friends,
Next year, we will be celebrating the 65th anniversary of this victory. A month ago, I signed an executive order on establishing an anniversary medal. These medals will be awarded to veterans living both in Russia and in other countries. I know that today, there are veterans here who arrived from other CIS nations. This is our tradition, and our celebration cannot be divided by state lines.
I am certain that even as the years pass, the sacred date of May 9 and the events of the Great Patriotic War will never be forgotten. We will remember that war as a great tragedy, and as a harsh lesson to those who would encroach on the lives and freedom of our people.
Dear friends, I want to once more congratulate you on the Victory Day.