On this Veterans Day’s eve, I would like to wish all those Americans in Sweden who have served and who continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, including those at the U.S. Embassy here in Stockholm, a very happy Veterans Day! Your commitment to our country and your dedication to a cause bigger than yourself is an inspiration to us all.
Over the past year I have had the opportunity as Ambassador to meet a number of U.S. veterans and hear the stories of their service. I have also had the privilege to learn more about the historic sacrifices of U.S. servicemen and women. On my recent trip to Malmö, I had the solemn honor to lay a wreath at the grave of a young U.S. airman who perished in a crash in October 1944 near Gothenburg when he and his aircrew were forced to divert their supply flight to Bromma on account of bad weather. In May, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, I participated in a short video that told the little known story of the U.S. airmen who landed their damaged planes in southern Sweden after completing bombing missions over Nazi Germany in World War II — and the Swedes who assisted them. This story of U.S. servicemen and Swedes cooperating with them, in spite of Sweden’s neutral status, was new to me, and I found it fascinating, inspiring, and moving. Those events foreshadowed how closely our two countries would end up working together on defense and security. Indeed, today you will find U.S. and Swedish soldiers serving side-by-side in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and other locations around the world where multinational cooperation is necessary to maintain peace and security.
In June this year I was honored to be able to visit the American Cemetery in Normandy, France to see for myself where so many Americans soldiers fought and died to defeat Hitler and liberate Europe. This visit had particular meaning to me as one of my grandfathers fought in the European campaign.
From the valor of the men and women who fought tirelessly 75 years ago, to the young men and women of our Marine Security Guard detachment who protect our staff at the Embassy, and all of the U.S. veterans in between, your commitment as Americans to fight for our values and to stand watch over us leaves us with an enormous debt of gratitude. May we never forget the dedication and sacrifice of our fellow countrymen and women in defense of the values and freedoms that we hold dear. A very happy Veterans Day to you all!