Thursday, May 26, 2022, 1100
Good morning everyone
Thank you for gathering with us all to commemorate this, America’s 154th Memorial Day. It is my pleasure to welcome you, and I am particularly gladdened that we can once again gather in public. Let us all hope that the dark days of the last two years will remain in the past.
And let me also start by delivering a special thank you, both professionally and personally, to all of our veterans, and their families here this morning. May I ask that you raise your hands? ……You all have my genuine appreciation for your service and your sacrifice.
In late May, 1868, in the shadow of the U.S. Civil War, our people first gathered to honor and remember those who fell so that our Great Union could survive. These fallen heroes, as surely as those who came before them and sacrificed themselves to forge our nation, defined selflessness and duty to something far larger and greater than the individual. Today, we pay homage to them all; from Lexington to Kandahar, we remain in their collective debt. In 1787, we pledged to work toward a more perfect union, and our veterans have done more to make that pledge real than any others.
I mention our nation’s conflicts—on our own soil and far abroad. But just as there is no corner of this world that does not know of our founding principles and our abiding dedication to freedom, so too are there few areas in which our armed forces have not fought and sacrificed. Less than hour away, in Ploesti, in 1943 over 600 American lives were lost in Operation Tidal Wave as we struggled to break the steel grip of fascist tyranny in Europe. The friendship and alliance that we now enjoy with our stalwart Romanian allies was purchased with their bravery and sacrifice. From former belligerents to ideological opposites behind an iron curtain that once divided this continent, we now stand together in unshakeable solidarity. Our veterans brought us to this point. This day is for them.
As war again ravages this continent, we and our Allies are privileged to have inherited the mantle of unflinching and steadfast bravery. Daily, we are poignantly reminded of the existential need for a strong and unified NATO, its effective deterrence, and its defensive abilities. In the face of the unjustified, illegal, and savage Russian invasion of Ukraine, the peaceful world is again reminded that there is no substitute for collective security. The sum of our Alliance is orders of magnitude greater than its parts. Romania’s outsized contribution to that Alliance is deeply appreciated, as are the individual actions of its men and women in uniform. It is an honor to call them Allies and as malign forces seek to set our world back to the dark days of eighty years ago, it is greatly reassuring to know none of us faces this challenge alone.
Today, we honor the sacrifices of all those who bequeathed so very much to us all. We pay homage to those who served before, fell before, and those who serve now so that we may live in relative security and peace. The collective debt we owe, never will…and never can be…fully paid.
I wish you all a reflective Memorial Day.
Thank you, and may God bless you.