Today marks the 74th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day). On May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. World War II in Europe, which had begun in 1939 with the Nazi-Soviet invasion and dismemberment of Poland, was ended. After more than five years of the most brutal war ever inflicted upon humanity, the guns of Europe fell silent on May 8.
Today, we unite in solemn commemoration for the millions of victims of this terrible War, and in eternal gratitude to those who fell in the service of our country in the struggle for freedom. The memory of the Nazi German death camps and the blood-soaked battlefields of Europe warns us of man’s capacity for evil and instills in us an eternal vigilance against inhumanity.
We pause today to pay tribute to the brave men and women who served Canada in WWII. More than 45,000 Canadians sailors, soldiers and airmen made the supreme sacrifice and over 55,000 were wounded in the struggle to defeat tyranny. More than one million Canadians served in uniform during WWII – among them some 40,000 of Ukrainian origin.
Canadians fought with valour in places such as Juno Beach, Sicily, and countless other battlefields. They fought in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. They fought in the skies over France, Britain, the Netherlands, and many other places to liberate Europe from the scourge of Nazi tyranny. We owe our brave soldiers an eternal debt that can never be repaid.
While on the Western front, Canada and the Western allies liberated Europe from Nazi despotism, on the Eastern front, Stalin’s Soviet Union brought more oppression, death and cruelty to the captive nations of eastern Europe.
Caught between the totalitarian and genocidal empires of Hitler and Stalin, Ukrainians fought with bravery against both occupiers. Victory over Nazi Germany brought neither peace, freedom nor deliverance to Ukraine. The Ukrainian people were forced to struggle for more than four decades after the end of WWII for their liberation. We remember and honour their sacrifices and their bravery.
Today, the people of Ukraine are forced to fight in defence of that freedom. Russia seeks once again to subjugate Ukraine to Moscow’s despotism. Ukraine’s sons and daughters again bravely take up arms to defend their country. With God’s help, they will be victorious.
Lest We Forget. Вічная Пам’ять