Seventy-years-ago, 156,000 brave women and men of the United States, Great Britain and Canada, stormed the heavily shelled beaches of Normandy, France, in the largest ever military amphibious landing - D-Day, en route to the liberation of Nazi occupied France and the wider Europe; to eventually win the peace and freedom with the unconditional surrender of defeated Hitler's Germany on May 8, 1945. Today, we honor those - civilian and military, sacrificed to win the peace and the freedom of Europe and of the World.
Yet, in reflection of the heroics of those legends 70-years-ago, we must now reaffirm our vow to them of ensuring that their lives were not given in vain. To this end, as we cast our eyes to today, the existence of crises, conflicts and high tensions, mandate attention and action forthwith, to ensure that the honor of those sacrificed for peace and for freedom, is not lost in the entanglement of trade benefits over the greater good of safeguards of human rights and of sovereignty.
From Ukraine to the South and East China Seas, crises and tensions have been perpetrated by particular actors reminiscent of a time pre-70-years-ago. Russia, which played a role in bringing an end to WWII, has emerged as a meddlesome actor in Ukraine. China, with a ballooning defense budget as part of a military modernization of some $145 billion last year, has raised tensions on the East and South China Seas as it frets with neighbors, especially Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, over territorial issues. Terrorism continues to be troublesome in the Middle East and in Africa. The Syrian regime has created a massive humanitarian debacle upon our times.
And 70-years-ago, thousands of men and women were sacrificed that we not travel the paths emerging in Ukraine, on the East and South China Seas and in Syria. Yet, the sacrifices of our fallen heroes underscore the fact that freedom is never free. So today, our considerations are: what will be paid to win Ukrainian freedom? How much will peace cost on the East and South China Seas? How many more children will die in Syria?