In honor of Armistice, Remembrance, and Veterans Day, leaders from Naval Forces Europe/Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command Naples, Italy, participated in commemorations across Europe and Africa. U.S. Navy flag officers spoke in American Battle Monuments and historic sites in France, and the Naval Forces Europe/Africa band played at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial. We paused to give thanks for those courageous and committed heroes who lived and died for liberty, many on battlefields far from home.
I spoke in a dignified ceremony at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris where 1,565 U.S. heroes rest in peace.
Here is a full transcript. For you Francophones out there, here are a few words I shared at the cemetery:
Il y a cent ans, les jeunes « Sammies » de l’oncle Sam ont traversé l’Atlantique … Avec passion et courage, ils ont rejoint les « Bleuets » de France sur le champs de bataille. « Lafayette, Nous Voilà ! »
Translation: One hundred years ago the young “Sammies” of Uncle Sam crossed the Atlantic….with passion and courage, they joined the French “Bleuets” on the battlefield. “Lafayette, Here we are!”
In other words, it’s been a century since Americans joined their Allied brothers and sisters to demonstrate unequaled resolve in the “War to End All Wars.” The message still resonates today: SECDEF Mattis stated in his memo last month: "Alliances and multinational partnerships provide avenues for peace." Our commitment to NATO is rock solid. We stand ready to support our Allies, our friends.
While the occasion at Suresnes was solemnly set amongst the simply marked graves in the November rain, there was a tremendous sense of hope for our future. French and American Girl and Boy Scouts helped lay the wreaths of commemoration. These enthusiastic young men and women are our future.
We must do everything in our power to prevent heartbreaking chapters in our history from repeating. Despite challenges and minor disagreements, the NATO alliance has been successful in guaranteeing peace and stability for 70 years. With our shared commitment, a strong and ready North Atlantic Treaty Organization can realize vision for Europe and beyond: whole, free and at peace. In the face of 21st century security challenges, we remember our common values. We stand together. #WeAreNato #PartnerStrong #SteadyPresence