At a solemn ceremony in the Netherlands, George W Bush has paid tribute to those who died defeating Nazi Germany. Marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, the US president led commemorations at a cemetery near Maastricht. He was joined by Dutch Queen Beatrix, the nation’s Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and many others – including US war veterans.
Some 8,000 American servicemen from World War II are buried at Margraten cemetery. Balkenende used the past to focus on Europe’s future.
“The European Union is about to take the next step – ratification of the European constitution because we believe, in the words of that constitution, that Europe reunited after bitter experiences intends to continue along the path of civilisation, progress and prosperity,” he said.
But the immense sacrifices of the past were in everyone’s minds. “On this peaceful May morning, we commemorate a great victory for liberty and the thousands of white marble crosses and stars of David underscore the terrible price we paid for that victory,” said Bush.
His European tour is centered on wartime remembrance.
Later he will travel to Moscow which is hosting a huge victory parade tomorrow.