An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

You have accessed part of a historical collection on Some of the information contained within may be outdated and links may not function. Please contact the DOD Webmaster with any questions.

Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper Remarks for DOD Virtual Victory in Europe Day Commemoration

When you think about the young men and women that served during World War II, what they did is they walked away from their homes all across America, from their jobs, their careers, their -- their hopes and dreams, and they decide to serve.  They volunteered in the millions to go defend their country abroad from fascism.

I served abroad in Europe for many years, so I'd also had -- had the chance to not only combine my understanding of America's participation in World War II, but also, the ability to live in Europe and walk many of those battlefields and get an understanding of what the combat might have been like at that time.

When you -- when you look at that, when you study the war, you just have to be inspired by men and women who served for many years, oftentimes being wounded and going back into the combat, but more importantly, having no idea of when the world might end.  It went on for years.  Year after year, month after month, serving in combat against -- against the Axis really inspires.

And then on top of that, what we saw was these young men and women go home, return to the United States, take their uniform off and just pick up their lives, in many ways, where they left them in their hometowns, going back to work, maybe pursuing a career, an occupation or college, getting married and just building their families.

I think that those two things combined are why they really inspire me and remind us all that they were, and are, the Greatest Generation.