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Past Offers Us All Lessons for Tomorrow

President Hu Jintao flew to Moscow yesterday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the victory of Russia's Great Patriotic War. He joined Russian veterans last night and will join leaders from other nations today.

Events across the world to mourn the dead in World War II show we continue to remember the tragedy of the war and the importance of peace.

Remembering the fallen is our moral obligation, not only to the dead soldiers and civilian victims but also to honored veterans.

The price of war, World War II in particular, is staggering. Tens of millions of soldiers and civilians died in the largest bloodbath in history. A generation of young men sacrificed their lives. Cultural centers of the world were ravaged; the intelligentsia massacred; art, architecture, beauty and life destroyed.

The years between 1937 and 1945 marked the darkest days of China and the Chinese people. The Chinese people's role in World War II was not merely that of victim. Chinese soldiers joined in the worldwide fight against the fascists. Their enemies were the Japanese invaders.

We are honored that together with other nations, such as Russia and the United States, we fought to end the war.

We hope that now we can all act in a manner befitting the memory of the millions who sacrificed their lives to save others and humanity.

The commemoration is also our obligation to generations to come, so that they can learn from the past. The lessons of the Second World War are eternal lessons, always worth attention.

But when we consider the bloodshed and slaughter that have taken place since 1945, we must ask if the world has fully learned those lessons.

We have an obligation to build a world based on tolerance and mutual respect. But let us never be tolerant of terrorism, violence and fascism. All these still plague the world today.

The mission to ensure that the evils of the war never rear their heads again is ongoing. Sixty years later, people still have memories of those terrible years: memories of fear, violence, extreme poverty and death; tragic experiences of painful separation, endured in the absence of all security and freedom; recurring trauma brought about by the incessant bloodshed.

It was not easy at the time to fully comprehend the many tragic dimensions of the conflict. But the passage of time has brought an increased awareness of the effect of that war on the 20th century and possibly on the future of the world.

World War II was not only a historical event.

It also marked a turning point for humanity. As the years go by, the memories of the war must not grow dim; rather, they ought to become a stern lesson for our generation and for generations yet to come.

Nowadays the tragic experience of the war represents a point of reference for all who wish to reflect on the present day and on the future of humanity.

The memory of all that took place must be kept alive: this is our duty.

Sadly, the end of the war did not lead to the disappearance of the policies and ideologies which were the cause of the war or contributed to its outbreak.

After 1945, wars unfortunately did not come to an end.

Violence, terrorism and armed attacks have continued to darken the last six decades.

Today too many conflicts still rage in different parts of the world. Horrible pictures enter our homes each day via our television sets.

We must never forget what happened in the past and what is still happening today. These are tragedies, which affect countless innocent victims, whose cries of terror and suffering are a challenge to the consciences of all decent men and women. We cannot and must not yield to the logic of arms.

We cannot change the past. But we can learn its lessons. We have a responsibility to shape the future wisely. This has to be the outcome of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2004, declaring May 8 and 9 "Remembrance and Reconciliation Days."

When leaders from the victorious and vanquished nations stand together in Moscow today for commemoration services, it sends a clear message: the dark aspects of history must never happen again.

(China Daily May 9, 2005)

Hu Meets Russian War Veterans
President in Moscow for WWII Victory Celebrations
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