Your Excellencies, members of Parliament, Secretaries of State, Mr. Mayor, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends,
Let me express on behalf of my Embassy and my colleagues that are here today and myself, my deep gratitude for your attendance with us this morning. Some of you have travelled a great distance and you honor and bless us with your presence. And let me make special note of gratitude to any veterans or families of veterans that are with us this morning.
Fundamental rights and freedoms – to life, to liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – were inscribed at America’s birth. Maintaining those freedoms at home and standing together in solidarity with those seeking to throw off unjust tyranny abroad for the last 238 years has demanded enormous effort — and the ultimate sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. These selfless men and women have placed into our hands the gifts of peace, of freedom, and of unlimited potential for the future.
But this is not just a day of mourning the lost. Along with recognizing their sacrifice today, we put aside all our daily distractions to remember that the freedoms they fought for are still worth fighting for; still worth our sacrifice. We continue to stand ready, even today, to fight alongside our Allies and partners to ensure what they fought for will endure.
We now stand before this monument to remember those U.S. servicemen who gave their lives in and over Romania to defeat tyranny and fascism in World War II. We also remember the kindness and personal risk taken by the Romanian people in Prahova County and especially Queen Mother Helen who ensured that those who survived their aerial combat were protected, sheltered, and healed.
The battles fought in the skies of Romania and across Europe and the Pacific paved the way for millions of people to know peace, freedom, and democracy. To ensure this would endure in Europe, the allied world created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, whose very charter declares that those who make up this Alliance are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. We are proud to celebrate Romania’s 15 years in the NATO Alliance, the greatest Alliance the world has ever known.
Today we re-commit ourselves to honor the sacrifices of these hallowed dead. We must strive to do all we can to uphold their trust and faith in us. We must constantly hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards by which we can measure our own contributions to liberty, fundamental rights, and equal justice for all. When we fall short, we must not become discouraged, but focus on their sacrifice of life to renew our own commitment. Our commemoration today is an opportunity to do just that; to renew our determination to protect the freedoms that they courageously defended.
So, let us remember those fallen friends who pursued something greater than themselves as well as those whose continued vigilance today serves to make this life something profoundly more virtuous. May we continue to honor them in the future as much as they have honored us.
Thank you for attention.