President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear veterans,
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the anniversary the whole country is celebrating today – the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk.
There has probably never been such a difficult time in our country’s history, and we know that the outcome of the entire Great Patriotic War essentially depended on the outcome of this battle.
The Soviet people’s feat is without parallel. The cost was immense, but it was this effort, this struggle that made Victory possible.
Now 65 years have passed since this battle, but I think that you all still have those events of the summer of 1943 clear before your eyes. Visiting these memorials, this hallowed ground for all of our people, brings it home at just how great a price victory was achieved and just what severe trials fell upon the shoulders of your generation.
I am very happy to be able to spend this day with you. History decided that these events would be the turning point that set us on our march towards Europe and Berlin. Although many years have passed (and many of your comrades have departed this life), you can be sure that our country, our people, our state will always honour all of the heroes of this battle and keep their memory alive because a country that has no historical memory is doomed to fall apart and has no future.
You know that, unfortunately, the number of threats in the world has not become fewer. We know at what cost Victory was won. These lessons should serve as lessons of courage and memory for all of our citizens.
I am pleased to see that museums have been opened at these memorial sites and that students and schoolchildren come here today. You often meet with them and tell them about those very difficult days.
This is probably the most valuable thing that I recall from my own school years: even watching an excellent film or reading a book cannot give such vivid information as talking with veterans who saw and destroyed the enemy face to face.
I hope that you will have much time yet to tell our young people about these glorious days because, as I said, our country’s future depends on ensuring that these memories live on.
I congratulate you sincerely on this occasion and wish you good health. I hope that you will meet with young people and tell them about these days, and I think this will probably give you new strength and will to live. I hope that now we will have a chance to talk together about the past and also about the present and the future.
Congratulations on this holiday!