Vladimir Putin: Veterans of the Great Patriotic War, defenders of the Fatherland!
Ladies and gentlemen!
It is already the 55th time that our Fatherland has marked the anniversary of the great victory, a victory that cost our people dearly. Our generation remembers and knows that we are in your debt. We owe you everything: our birth, our fate and the freedom and independence of our Fatherland.
Front-line veterans and veterans of the rear, we have learned from you to be firm and courageous. No one can measure what your generation has done for Russia. Those were four years of the most difficult war, four years of privations and losses. But those were also four years of struggle and faith in ourselves and in victory. Not only did you destroy the enemy and win. You also raised a ruined country, rebuilt it anew, you fought and you worked. You did not slave away; you worked hard and well for the homeland, for us, for your grandchildren, for your children. And those who are trying to make us forget what a big and mighty land this was are also trying to make the veterans forget their springtime and their youth, full of life plans and hopes. For them it was an era of post-war self-discovery. They discovered themselves anew. It was indeed an era of our rebirth.
Veterans of the legendary Soviet Army have just now marched in the same ranks with fellow veterans, their comrades-in-arms from the fraternal countries of the Commonwealth. Your friendship and your military comradeship sustain not only you. They still unite our peoples, nourishing our common national memory and keeping alive the ties that bind our countries together. I hope and know that this will always be so. And as Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I give the veterans the following task: all veterans, both those who were present on Red Square today and those who were not, should prepare for the next parade, a parade marking the sixtieth anniversary of victory. And everyone should be there.
My friends, the world still marvels at the strength of our motherland, at our fortitude and might. But actually there is nothing surprising about it. Today every boy in Russia knows about Stalingrad and the Kursk Bulge. In fact, every family has their own heroes. Heroes from that cruel war. And this knowledge and this memory are immortal. As the greatness of our motherland is immortal. As the pride of the nation and Russian patriotism are immortal. No force can therefore overwhelm Russian arms and break our army, an army whose glorious record includes the Brest fortress and unconquered Leningrad, harsh 1941 and victorious 1945, and now the countless feats of soldiers of the new Russia. We have inherited this spirit and this faith from you, our dear veterans. Your life and your exploits are the best school of life for us, an example for those who are rebuilding our strong new state. Since time immemorial Russia has been a victorious country, a country that is peaceful, but one that respects itself and its national dignity. And so will it remain forever. We know this for sure and give you our firm pledge to add our victories to yours.
I propose a toast to the victorious soldier. To you, heroes of the Great Patriotic War! To a strong and prosperous Russia! To peace and well-being on Russian soil! Glory to the great victory!