May 25, 2020, 1000
Thank you Chaplain Flowers for your moving words, reminding us why we are here.
Welcome to the United States Embassy in Bucharest. Memorial Day is a very special day. One of the most important days for our country. It is on this day that we honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. I am honored to represent President Trump and the American people.
I want to thank Romanian Minister Of Defense Ciuca and the Romanian Chief Of Defense General Petrescu for joining us today. Thank you. It is indicative of the strength of the strategic partnership between our two countries.
I also want to thank Colonel Larry Vaughn, the Black Sea Area Support Group Commander, Chaplain Flowers, and Sergeant Major Roger Allen who traveled here from Mihail Kagalniceanu Military Base in Constanta to be with us today. I greatly appreciate your presence here today. Thank you.
I also want to thank my deputy chief of mission, Abby Rupp, Colonels Neiper and Carsten, and all of the other military and civil embassy personnel, whether here or viewing on video due to COVID-imposed distancing requirements. Thank you Abby.
Lastly, a warm and much deserved thank you to Colonel Scott Weston, my Defense Attaché, and Scott Reese, my Public Affairs Counselor, who both worked so diligently to organize this event today. Thank you – great job!
This day is normally a day for military pageantry, a day for grand displays of patriotism, and a day for large gatherings of solemn reflection to honor those military members who have died in the defense of our country and our way of life. This year is not normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year it is even more important to continue the tradition of honoring those who have died protecting our freedom. They never questioned going into battle for us. We will never forget them, their families and their sacrifice. We are here for them today– it could not have been otherwise, we have not forgotten. We will always be here for them.
In Congress, July 4th, 1776 the thirteen states of the United States of America unanimously agreed that “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….”
We have cherished and protected these fundamental rights and freedoms for the last 244 years. It has not been easy to do so. It has come at a very high price – the ultimate sacrifice for too many soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. These brave men and women put themselves in harm’s way to protect our homeland and our friends and allies.
We continue to stand ready, even today, even in the midst of a pandemic, to fight alongside our allies and partners to ensure the freedoms we fought for will continue to endure. America continues to support a strong and free Europe, bound by our shared values of democracy and national sovereignty.
We must all support our men and women in uniform to serve and protect the essence of the values we live by: our liberty, freedom, fundamental human rights and the rule of law. It is these values that set us apart from those who would take them from us. It is what makes us exceptional. We cannot allow anyone to take these freedoms away, and it is for that reason we are here today. As President Ronald Reagan said, “If words cannot repay the debt we owe these men and women, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”
Let this also be a warning to those who would test American resolve or exceptionalism. Do not mistake American generosity and charitable spirit for weakness. The bilateral strategic partnership with Romania has never been stronger. Romania has no better friend than the American people. Our soldiers fought and died alongside each other in faraway places to preserve our shared goals of freedom, the rule of law and basic human rights.
Together we shall defeat the scourge of COVID. Together we shall rebuild our economies. Together we shall maintain our civil rights. Together we shall not allow foreign malign influences to deprive our people of their freedom.
Today we renew our determination to provide future generations their opportunity to be prosperous, to live in a free and open democracy and achieve their dreams. The dreams that those who fought and died never had a chance to fulfill.
We salute all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as those members of the armed forces who continue to protect us and put their lives on the line every day so we may sleep soundly at night.
We will always continue to honor our lost service women and men. We owe our lives, freedom and wellbeing to their sacrifices.
May God bless you, and thank you.