Thank you all for joining us today to commemorate Memorial Day. On behalf of our Embassy and my colleagues we welcome you. We are especially gladdened by the opportunity to host this event today as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would like to give a special welcome to the veterans and families of veterans joining us today. Could you please raise your hands?
The original Memorial Day took place on May 30th, 1868 to honor and remember those who died defending the Union in the American Civil War. That Union was founded on the self-evident truths that all men are created equal and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Since that day 153 years ago, Memorial Day has evolved to honor those Americans, both men and women, on both American and foreign soil, who died in service to country.
It is therefore appropriate that we pause to reflect and pay homage to those American servicemen – many still unidentified — who gave their lives in and over Romania during World War II to defeat the tyranny of fascism in Europe. As the focus of Memorial Day has shifted, so too have the lines that divided us during the early part of that war and the dark days of communism. We are now proud, and honored, to stand next to Romania as one of our strongest Allies and friends.
We are now together participating in DEFENDER-Europe 21, a series of large military exercises in Romania and across Europe. These exercises serve as a very real example of the impressive relationship between our two nations, increasing strategic and operational readiness among the United States, Romania, and other NATO Allies and partners. DEFENDER will conclude in a few days, but the experience gained, the mutual understanding achieved, and the friendships created will have laid the groundwork for even closer cooperation in years to come and serve as a prime example of our collective capabilities. DEFENDER also reminds us that as Allies and partners, we stand stronger together.
I, my colleagues at the Embassy, and the many U.S. service members in this country are privileged to see first-hand Romania’s shared commitment to NATO. Perhaps more importantly, we are also honored to have experienced Romania’s professionalism, hospitality, and friendship.
We honor all those who stand beside us to defend our shared values so future generations can live free and at peace. We stand ready to fight against those who would take those values from us.
Today, we honor the sacrifices of all those who have served and died in pursuit of something greater than themselves, Romanian and American alike, service members who have fought and died in defense of the shared values I just mentioned
We honor those who continue to serve their nation’s highest calling and ideals. We offer our gratitude to the families and friends left behind, for a debt we can never repay, but will continue to cherish.
Thank you, and may God bless you.