SALT LAKE CITY – This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Germany. State, religious, and military leaders gathered at the Fort Douglas Military Cemetery Sunday for the German National Day of Remembrance.
Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the presidency of the LDS Church, spoke about the many lives that were lost during World War II, and the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in the name of peace and freedom.
Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah from the Congregation Kol Ami opened the ceremony with an invocation. She spoke about the many Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust, and how the world can find peace and healing through forgiveness.
“We pray today for the strength to allow our lives to be transformed by divine love and forgiveness,” she said during her speech.
Herbert spoke about countries in the world that are in conflict coming together to find common ground.
“I think as we look into people’s eyes, and particularly those who we declare our enemy, that we find they’re not much different than ourselves,” he said in his address. “Same hopes, same aspirations. Sometimes we’re born on the wrong side of the border, at the wrong time, and we’re called upon to do our duty in supporting our country.”
Volkstrauertag was started by the German Honorary Consul after World War II as an annual day of remembrance.
Uchtdorf spoke about the human race treating each other with common love and respect.
“It takes empathy and action to influence the future of mankind based on dignity, honesty, and eternal values--regardless of differences in politics, religion, race or cultural traditions,” Uchtdorf said during his address.
Religious leaders honored the lives of men and women who are forced to fight in wars across the world, and the innocent lives that are lost as a result.
“May the souls of these men, and of all those whom we honor today, be bound up in the bonds of eternal life, and may they rest beneath the wings of god’s gracious love,” Bat-Sarah said.
They say they hope the day is a reminder to people of the sacrifices their men and women in uniform make to protect and fight for their countries.