WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama marked Friday the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by calling the victorious Allied troops a generation that saved the world.
Obama moved up his traditional weekend radio address to coincide with the anniversary. It will be celebrated in Washington with vintage US warplanes that flew in the war roaring over downtown for 45 minutes.
In his address, Obama said Allied commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower's low-key announcement of Germany's surrender belied the momentous military victory that had been achieved and the awful scope of the human suffering endured.
"For over five years, brutal fighting laid waste to an entire continent. Mothers, fathers, children were murdered in concentration camps. By the time the guns fell silent in Europe, some 40 million people on the continent had lost their lives," Obama said.
Obama said Americans must pay tribute to all the patriots, as he put it - soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guard, merchant marines - including women "manning the homefront" like his grandmother, who stepped up to work in factories to help the war effort.
"This was the generation that literally saved the world - that ended the war and laid a foundation for peace," Obama said.
"This was the generation that traded in their uniforms for a college education so they could marry their sweethearts, buy homes, raise children and build the strongest middle class the world has ever known," he added.
Obama said that besides looking back with pride and honour, Americans should also rededicate themselves to the freedoms those people fought for.
"Let's stand united with our allies, in Europe and beyond, on behalf of our common values - freedom, security, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world - and against bigotry and hatred in all their forms so that we give meaning to that pledge: 'Never forget. Never again,'" Obama said.