President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, veterans, friends,
First of all, I want to congratulate all of you on the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. This is a momentous event in the life of our nation, our country, and not only ours. The battle of Stalingrad, as I said earlier in my address at the ceremony, was the turning point in World War II. We know that for a fact and nobody has any doubt about it. This means that the battle played a decisive part in the fate of not only our nation, but also the peoples of many other European countries, as well as a significant role in world history.
A great deal has been said and written about the feats of the Red Army and the city’s residents. Our shared goal is to make sure that interest in topics like this is not lost, because the understanding of our history, the understanding of these events, some of whose participants are present here today, is crucial for our country. It is crucial in terms of the preservation of our statehood, strengthening our nation and instilling patriotism, which, as we all know, is nothing but love for one’s motherland. No country can survive without it; it just dissolves, like a sugar cube in a cup of tea.
I am therefore very pleased that our meeting today is attended not only by those who fought for Stalingrad, but also by people of different generations. Among them are school students who wrote the best essays on Stalingrad and the Battle of Stalingrad, young people and people of all ages who collect information about the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad in their spare time and who are engaged in a very noble, very important initiative: to restore historical justice, to return the names of our fallen heroes to the country and to their families. According to preliminary data, about 450,000 names have already been recovered and became part of our national history. 450,000 names, can you imagine that?
Thousands of people are volunteering for the scouting teams, of which there are six hundred in total. Friends, I want to thank you for taking part in this initiative and for choosing such a hobby, if you can call it that – it is a passion that is engrossing and important not only for you but also for the whole country – and I wish you continued success.
That is all I wanted to say at the start and now I would like to give the opportunity to the veterans and our scouting teams to express their views on what and how we should do together, including at all levels of government – municipal, state and federal – to make sure that events like the Battle of Stalingrad and other landmarks in the Russian history are never forgotten and always remain a topic for discussion and a good example for teaching patriotic values and love for the Fatherland.