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Ambassador Johnston, Ms. [Jonna] Doolittle-Hoppes, fellow flag officers, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.
I would first like to quickly thank Mr. Rich Cobb and the entire American Battle Monuments Commission for care and stewardship of the Cambridge American Cemetery. Each and every day the team here maintains the grounds in absolutely immaculate condition. Battle Monuments supervisors and superintendents throughout the world selflessly preserve vital memorials, like the one where we stand today. Here, over 30 acres of land donated by the University of Cambridge serve as a monument to our revered fallen. We honor them today.
It is sometimes hard for us to imagine the scale and breadth of World War II. It was the most global war in history that directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. It was also the deadliest—estimates range from 50 to 85 million fatalities.
Like many of you, I have personal connections: my father was in the Canadian Forces in WWII, like his father in WWI. He landed at Normandy in July 1944 and proceeded to crawl across France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany until demobilizing on V-E Day, 8 May 1945.
Next week we will mark Seventy Five years since June 6, 1944. I will be on the beach to unveil the first U.S. Navy Lone Sailor Memorial outside the United States.
Operation OVERLORD, the 1944 Normandy landings, was the largest seaborne assault in human history. During the lengthy operation, over 6,000 Allied ships carried 1 million soldiers across the English Channel to a 50-mile-wide strip of the Normandy coast in Occupied France. Incredible.
Fighting would rage on in Europe—at sea, on land, and in the air. Many of these air operations were launched from right here. Many of the brave airmen did not return.
The cemetery contains the remains of 3,811 of our war dead; and 5,127 names are recorded on the Walls of the Missing. The sacrifice is on display.
Another relative, Flight Sergeant John Paul-Riches, my grandmother’s nephew, was an Air Gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His bomber was a part of the six-one-seven (6-1-7) Squadron, a special unit that took part in multiple high profile raids over land and sea. The squadron became known as “The Dambusters” …after a raid which targeted amongst others, the Eder Dam of the Ruhr River.
Bomber Number DV 382 completed a mission in southern France and had previously completed a number of missions deep behind enemy lines in occupied France. Sergent Paul and 7 other crew members had just completed one such long-range bombing mission against the Antheor Viaduct, 10 miles SW of Cannes. There was heavy fog. They crashed. There were no survivors.
Captain James Anderson of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, fought and died in the Italian Campaign on September 28th, 1944.
Their steadfast commitment defeated tyranny and preserved freedom.
Experience with WWII inspired our forefathers to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to deter any future aggression and DEFEND our collective freedoms.
One of NATO's major achievements has been to unite former enemies in a defensive Alliance. OUR Alliance has made conflict between those former enemies unthinkable.
As NATO celebrates our 70th anniversary this year, the Alliance—now 29-strong and soon to be 30 at the London summit in December—stands together stronger than ever to face challenges 24/7 and from any direction 360 degrees.
Our common goal of a Europe whole, free and at peace remains as valid today as it was then. We share these common values and common interests. Together, we are committed to European security and promoting peace in Europe and beyond.
I have no doubt the fighting forces of NATO will continue to defend the people and interests of any Ally, just as the fighting forces of the United Kingdom and United States fought side by side from these fields in East Anglia.
Together we can build the peaceful, connected, and prosperous world that these men and women fought for. The world they died for. Thank you.
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