President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear veterans of the Great Patriotic War, colleagues, friends,
May 9 is a special holiday for our people. No other celebration, I think, has come at such a cost or represents such a triumph. But though achieved through suffering, this celebration is also the most joyous and uniting holiday, a day that brings the different generations together under the banner of our historic Victory.
The dramatic events of those years will remain forever in our memories, in the pages of our country’s history and in the chronicles of our families. For six decades now we have been honouring and remembering the feats of our forebears who found themselves face to face with the horrors of war.
They paid a tremendous price for our Motherland’s freedom and independence. But those terrible years gave birth on the frontlines and in the rear to genuine examples of patriotism, noble spirit, self-sacrifice, and tempered the national character that has helped us more than once in our history to fight the enemy with courage, to fight despite the bitterness of losses, to fight to win.
Our people fulfilled their historic mission with true glory. Not only did they liberate their own country but they saved the world from Nazism, brought freedom to the countries of Europe and decided the outcome of the entire Second World War.
Today, we know very well that the lessons of 1945 have no expiry date. They, like the colossal human losses of the war years, teach us that confrontation and violence lead to disaster. It is whole peoples, the elderly, women, children, who pay for the bloody mistakes of politicians. These mistakes place a heavy burden on the shoulders of new generations. For long decades afterwards entire countries and continents struggle to overcome the terrible consequences of such tragedies.
The Victory of May 9 represents the triumph of our people’s unyielding spirit. There is nothing by which we can measure the weight of the hardships our people had to bear then. The feat of the wartime generation is the absolute measure for us today, the standard for our ideals of freedom, justice and goodness. These ideals have always helped us resist aggression and violence, and today must unite the international community in order to prevent the emergence of new and terrible threats.
Dear veterans of the Great Patriotic War, you are the worthy guardians of the historical truth of that war, and you have borne your personal testimony of this truth throughout the years of your lives. The fate of each one of you means much to us indeed, and your battle-tempered spirit and great sense of responsibility for the Motherland has never allowed you to stand aside from its greatest cares and undertakings.
I wish you health and prosperity, dear veterans. I wish you long and dignified years of life and I propose a toast to this Great Victory, a toast to the liberating soldiers, a toast to a strong and prosperous Russia!