It is truly an honor to be with you here at the National D-Day Memorial for the 70th D-Day Anniversary Commemoration.
I have had the opportunity to visit Normandy. To walk on the beach, to see and feel the remnants of the barriers and bunkers, to hear the tales of tremendous courage and perseverance, and to be overwhelmed with emotion at the American Cemetery and Memorial that overlooks Omaha Beach.
This place where we gather today is both familiar and special to me. I grew up in Lynchburg and have called central Virginia home for the past forty-four years. I have long been aware and proud of my community’s contribution and sacrifice. Today we recognize those who fought for our freedom, we remember those whose lives were lost, and we celebrate the triumph of courage, liberty, and humanity.
The history of French-American friendship and partnership dates back more than 200 years. In 1777, George Washington, met and developed a life-long friendship with a Frenchman, General Lafayette, who went on to serve under him for the duration of the Revolutionary War. Historians describe Lafayette as the son Washington never had, and Lafayette would name his only son after Washington. Right here in the Commonwealth, Franco-American collaboration was further exemplified by the critical support from French troops in the defeat of British forces in Yorktown in 1781. That cooperation between our nations continued through the Normandy invasion and continues today.
The world has changed significantly since June 6, 1944; that day of valiant heroism, and yet we continue to strive for the dual aims of continued peace and prosperity. In a dynamic and interconnected 21st century world, clean, safe, reliable energy is inextricably linked to the sustainable prosperity of America. The deployment of clean energy technologies thereby supports both our economic and national security.
AREVA is a global nuclear and renewable energy company, headquartered in France. We are also long-term members of the Lynchburg community. This past December, we were honored to receive a Share of Stock in the Virginia Company from the Governor in recognition of our deep commitment to the growth and prosperity of the region. We are proud that our presence in Virginia echoes the long tradition of Franco-American partnership. Our forward-looking energy vision is about growth, innovation, people, and responsibility – for the benefit of our customers and communities throughout North America and the world.
We know, based on our experience, that U.S. military veterans have the training and leadership skills necessary to help us tackle the current and future needs of a world where energy demand continues to grow – more than 10% of AREVA’s 1,800 employees in the Lynchburg area are veterans.
We honor our colleagues and all veterans and active duty military for their dedication and determination – for their service and sacrifice. We renew and celebrate our shared commitment to uphold the values and ideals fundamental to America, rooted in freedom and opportunity.
Thank you for being a part of a historical day for our country, our communities, and our company – in acknowledgement of our history and in recognition of continued relations between France and the United States of America.