Madame Speaker, General Petraeus, members of Congress, and the Administration, Ambassador Oren and the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and most especially our survivors, the liberators, and the family of Stephen Johns, we welcome you.
Thirty times in 30 years, we have met in this sacred space, on this sacred occasion, in pursuit of a sacred cause: remembrance. We remember as Elie Wiesel taught us to: We honor the past by shaping the future.
If there is one theme that spans the many lessons we recall on these days, it is that we must all recognize genocide as a threat – not merely to its victims, but to the humanity all of us share. So it is fitting that on these Days of Remembrance, we honor the soldiers whose bravery and sacrifices finally stopped the greatest genocide in history. These liberators are a central element not merely of the history of the Holocaust, but also of its lessons. Their example teaches us that stopping genocide demands determination and sacrifice, character and courage.
Our Museum is honored to incorporate their story and their example within our walls – and beyond them. The Eisenhower Plaza at one entrance to the Museum bears that name as a tribute to every soldier who fought to defeat Nazi Germany and especially to those who liberated the camps and those who offered aid and compassion to the survivors. And under the eternal flame in our Hall of Remembrance lies soil from Nazi camps and ghettos as well as American military cemeteries, including Normandy.
Some soldiers, including those we honor today, brought freedom and hope through the gates of the camps or on death marches. Others, like my father – who hit the beaches of Normandy on the invasion’s first day – were equally instrumental in bringing the horror to an end.
The flags of the liberating divisions ring the other entrance of our Museum – and their story has a prominent place in our permanent exhibition – all stark reminders of just what it took to save our world.
Perhaps most importantly, beneath the eternal flame in our Hall of Remembrance, we have buried soil from the camps and ghettoes as well as from our American military cemeteries in Europe. It is fitting this soil is mixed – because the story of the survivors and the liberators is also intertwined. The bond they share is eternal. So are the lessons they teach us all. For they teach us that we must all be liberators. That what we do matters.
Those are the lessons of which the flags of the liberating divisions remind us. Today we will present the flags of these divisions differently than in past years in order to pay tribute to our veterans. I ask our guests to please remain seated during the presentation of the flags so that our liberators can be recognized. Will all the liberators please stand for the procession of the flags.
1st INFANTRY DIVISION — FALKENAU AN DER EGER
101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION — LANDSBERG
2nd INFANTRY DIVISION — LEIPZIG-SCHöNEFELD AND SPERGAU
82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION — WÖBBELIN
4th INFANTRY DIVISION — DACHAU SUBCAMPS
20th ARMORED DIVISION — DACHAU
8th INFANTRY DIVISION — WÖBBELIN
14th ARMORED DIVISION — DACHAU SUBCAMPS
26TH INFANTRY DIVISION — GUSEN
12th ARMORED DIVISION — LANDSBERG
29th INFANTRY DIVISION — DINSLAKEN
11th ARMORED DIVISION — GUSEN AND MAUTHAUSEN
36th INFANTRY DIVISION — KAUFERING CAMPS
10th ARMORED DIVISION — LANDSBERG
42nd INFANTRY DIVISION — DACHAU
9th ARMORED DIVISION — FALKENAU AN DER EGER
45th INFANTRY DIVISION — DACHAU
8th ARMORED DIVISION — HALBERSTADT-ZWIEBERGE
63rd INFANTRY DIVISION — KAUFERING CAMPS
6th ARMORED DIVISION — BUCHENWALD
65th INFANTRY DIVISION — FLOSSENBÜRG SUBCAMP
4th ARMORED DIVISION — OHRDRUF
69th INFANTRY DIVISION — LEIPZIG-THEKLA
3rd ARMORED DIVISION — DORA-MITTELBAU
71st INFANTRY DIVISION — GUNSKIRCHEN
104th INFANTRY DIVISION — DORA-MITTELBAU
80th INFANTRY DIVISION — BUCHENWALD AND EBENSEE
103rd INFANTRY DIVISION — LANDSBERG
83rd INFANTRY DIVISION — LANGENSTEIN
99th INFANTRY DIVISION — DACHAU SUBCAMPS
84th INFANTRY DIVISION — AHLEM AND SALZWEDEL
95th INFANTRY DIVISION — WERL
86th INFANTRY DIVISION — ATTENDORN
90th INFANTRY DIVISION — FLOSSENBÜRG
89th INFANTRY DIVISION — OHRDRUF
Will everyone please stand for the presentation of the National Colors.