Photos by Zoya Elrich
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A moving tribute to this spirit of the Elbe was held at Arlington Cemetery on Friday, April 23. The Russian delegation joined with representatives from most of the former Soviet Republics, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. For the first time, an American delegation arrived with a wreath to stand with the wreaths of Russia and the former republics. The day began with the Russian and American anthems played by military bands at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with Air Force, Navy and Army soldiers stepping in formation under brilliant sunshine. Veterans placed their wreaths at the Elbe marker, the children of diplomats laid red carnations, ending with a lone bugler who played Taps in the distance.
On Sunday, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a joint statement to commemorate event. Here is their statement in its entirety:
April 25, 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of the legendary meeting of Soviet and American troops at the Elbe River, which became a striking symbol of the brotherhood-in-arms between our nations during World War II.
We pay tribute to the courage of those who fought together to liberate Europe from fascism. Their heroic feat will forever remain in the grateful memory of mankind.
The atmosphere of mutual trust and shared commitment to victory, which accompanied the historic handshake at the Elbe, is especially called for today when Russia and the United States are building a partnership for the sake of a stable and prosperous world. We are convinced that, acting in the "spirit of the Elbe" on an equitable and constructive basis, we can successfully tackle any tasks facing our nations and effectively deal with the challenges of the new millennium