DENVER (KDVR) – A group of World War II veterans was about to embark on a long-planned trip to Russia, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the party.
But they still remember the time when US and Soviet forces teamed up to bring an end to the war. And so do the Russians.
“It seems to me that we have no right to forget about that time,” Anatoly Antonov, Russian Ambassador to the United States, told FOX31.
Exactly 75 years ago this weekend, history was made between the two countries. Soviet and American troops shook hands and embraced on the banks of the Elbe River, as they joined forces to battle the Nazi regime. Together, they dealt a fatal blow to German forces. Germany surrendered just 11 days later. President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin released a rare joint statement marking the 75th anniversary of the meeting on the Elbe.
“We should remember, we should respect, we should say to them, ‘Thank you very much to those sacrificed with their lives,'” Antonov said. The ambassador released a statement noting the significance of the anniversary, which can be read in full here.
Just days from now, a group of American World War II veterans, led by the Denver-based charity The Greatest Generations Foundation, had planned to travel to Moscow to take part in a massive Victory Day celebration planned by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Plans for the military parade through Red Square had been underway for months. Last week, Putin postponed the May 9 celebration because of the coronavirus pandemic. He has said he still plans to hold the parade sometime later in 2020.
“I’m sure that the time will come when we organize this parade. Some of (the veterans) will come to Moscow and they will enjoy with us this spirit of friendship, cooperation and so-called ‘brothers-in-arms,'” Antonov said.
The veterans from The Greatest Generations Foundation hope to make the trip later this year, if it’s deemed safe to travel. Even if the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the tributes, the Russian ambassador hopes the entire world pauses this weekend to remember veterans from both countries, and all allied nations, who helped end the war.
“Because it’s our history. We lost too many people,” Antonov said.