Statement by Ambassador Tefft after Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Today it was my honor to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lay a wreath to commemorate the sacrifices of the brave soldiers of the Soviet Union during World War II.

The Second World War affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.  Both my father and my father-in-law were soldiers who fought in Europe during World War II.  My wife Mariella and I honor the memory of our fathers and their bravery in the war.  And we have a deep and abiding respect for the tremendous sacrifices made by the Soviet people during the Great Patriotic War.  I am proud that our two nations stood arm in arm in fighting together the defeat the scourge of Nazism.

This year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Lend-Lease program. The program led to the United States providing members of the anti-Hitler coalition with over $50 billion dollars of equipment, weapons, ammunition, vehicles and food.  This is a very important page in American history, but also a significant step in the history of the United States and the Soviet Union relations.  Later this summer I will visit the graves of Americans who perished while providing lend lease equipment to the brave people of the Soviet Union.

On the eve of Victory Day in Europe, I think back to the end of the Second World War – the terrible losses suffered by the peoples of our countries, but also to the spirit of our alliance. In my mind, Victory Day commemorates not just the enormous sacrifice of the fallen and those who survived the war.  It also commemorates how we worked together at a time of great need.  Let us never forget the sacrifice, courage, and hard-fought triumph of the generations that have come before us.