[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[May 9, 1995]
[Pages 658-660]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the Dedication of the Central Museum for the
Great Patriotic War in Moscow, Russia
May 9, 1995

    President Yeltsin, Mr. Prime Minister, Prime Minister Major--
[inaudible]--Shevardnadze, Mr. Mayor--[inaudible]--the veterans of the 
Great Patriotic War. We come together today

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as friends to celebrate our shared victory over fascism, to remember the 
sacrifice of those of you who made it possible, and to fulfill the 
promise of an enduring peace that shown so brightly, but all too 
briefly, 50 years ago today.
    Brave men and women from our nations fought a common enemy with 
uncommon valor. Theirs was a partnership forged in battle, strengthened 
by sacrifice, cemented by blood. Their extraordinary effort speaks to us 
still of all that is possible when our people are joined in a just 
    With me today is an American veteran of the Great War, Lieutenant 
William Robertson. As the war entered its final days, Lieutenant 
Robertson's patrol sighted troops led by Lieutenant Aleksander Sylvashko 
across the Elbe River. Crawling toward each other on the girders of a 
wrecked bridge, these two officers met at the midpoint and embraced in 
triumph. They exchanged photographs of wives, children, loved ones, 
whose freedom they had defended, whose future they would secure. The 
Americans did not speak Russian, and the Russians did not speak English, 
but they shared a language of joy.
    The Americans at the Elbe remember how their new Russian friends 
danced that night, but how their jubilation turned solemn, because each 
of them had lost someone, a family member, a loved one, a friend. One 
out of every eight Soviet citizens was killed, soldiers in battle; 
prisoners, by disease or starvation; innocent children who could find no 
refuge. In all of the 27 million people who lost their lives to the war, 
there were Russians and Belarussians, Uzbekhs and Jews, Ukrainians, 
Armenians, Georgians, and more. These numbers numb the mind and defy 
    I say to you, President Yeltsin, and to all the people of Russia and 
the other republics of the former Soviet Union, the cold war obscured 
our ability to fully appreciate what your people had suffered and how 
your extraordinary courage helped to hasten the victory we all celebrate 
today. Now we must all say, you wrote some of the greatest chapters in 
the history of heroism, at Leningrad, in the battle for Moscow, in the 
defense of Stalingrad, and in the assault on Berlin, where your country 
lost 300,000 casualties in only 14 days.
    I have come here today on behalf of all the people of the United 
States to express our deep gratitude for all that you gave and all that 
you lost to defeat the forces of fascism. In victory's afterglow, the 
dream of peace soon gave way to the reality of the cold war, but now 
Russia has opened itself to new freedoms. We have an opportunity and an 
obligation to rededicate ourselves today to the promise of that moment 
50 years ago when Europe's guns fell silent.
    Just as Russians and Americans fought together 50 years ago against 
the common evil, so today we must fight for the common good. We must 
work for an end to the awful savagery of war and the senseless violence 
of terrorism. We must work for the creation of a united, prosperous 
Europe. We must work for the freedom of all of our people to live up to 
their God-given potential. These are our most sacred tasks and our most 
solemn obligations.
    This is what we owe to the brave veterans who brought tears to our 
eyes when they marched together with such pride and courage in Red 
Square today. And this is what we owe to the generations of our children 
still to be born. Let us do our duty, as the veterans of World War II 
did theirs.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:55 p.m. at the Poklonnaya Gora Monument. 
In his remarks, he referred to President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, Prime 
Minister John Major of the United Kingdom, Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze 
of the Republic of Georgia, and Mayor Uri Luzhkov of Moscow.

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