Home FEATURED Day of the Defenders 2023: Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the nation

Day of the Defenders 2023: Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the nation

by EUToday Correspondents
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Day of the Defenders
October 1st marks the Day of the Defenders, a public holiday in Ukraine, initially instigated by former President Petro Poroshenko in 2014 and first marked in the following year.

In his address to the nation to mark the holiday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said:

“February 24th began not when the clock struck midnight, but when the enemy launched an offensive. For us, the first minutes of that day were the first missiles and the first strikes on Ukraine. Addressing our defence and security forces at that moment, I said: “Stand your ground! You are all we have…”

“Today, Day of the Defenders, we thank everyone who stood, stands and will stand strong. All those who were the first to take on a difficult battle.

“Our border guards, our infantry, tank crewmen, pilots, sailors, artillerymen, anti-aircraft gunners, our paratroopers, special forces, intelligence, the Security Service of Ukraine, the National Guard, police, territorial defense. All those who defend the Ukrainian land, sea and sky. Whose protection we feel and whose courage we see everyday.

“Along the entire frontline, without a break, advancing during the ongoing counteroffensive. When Ukrainians from different regions, cities and villages are now together. In the same dugout, trench, in the same tank, aircraft, IFV. Side by side in different sectors, they are fighting for villages and towns they may have never been to before, but they are fighting as hard as they can as if those were their homes. Because that’s what they all became for us in the first minute of February 24th.

“We thank everyone who defends our borders and frontiers, law and order and safety on our streets, protects our land from mines and shells, and our homes from fire.

“All those who defend Ukraine. All our security and defence forces. Soldiers, sergeants, petty officers, sailors, officers and generals who together prove that it does not matter what is on the shoulder boards, it is important what is in the minds and hearts.

“Those who have been doing this for the past 585 days and the past nine years. And to the question: “Where was I on February 24th?” many will say: in the ATO and JFO area… I fought in Donbas. I defended Ukraine in the east, and then in all directions. I liberated Kramatorsk and later Kupyansk. I defended Donetsk airport and then the aerodrome in Hostomel…

The purpose of the Day of the Defenders

“The purpose of this day is to honour the bravery and heroism of the defenders of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, military traditions and the victories of the Ukrainian people.

“From the first minutes of February 24th to the present Day of the Defenders, the whole world has been witnessing these victories every day.

“These are millions of Ukrainians protecting each other. All those in every region who took up arms and went to the front and to the territorial defence units. All those in every occupied city who took up Ukrainian flags and went to the squares.

“All those who made a rule: I will not stand aside and will do what I can every day. I will work, heal, train, teach, help, bring victory closer as best I can. I will protect and provide for the needs of the frontline, find, buy and bring everything necessary, manufacture equipment, weapons and ammunition.

“I will protect people’s homes from darkness and cold, strengthening and repairing the power supply system even under explosions. I will protect our people and the peoples of the world from hunger, sow and reap a harvest despite the mines in the fields. I will uphold the reputation of the state in the diplomatic arena, ensure support for Ukraine, and the commitment of our international partners to our struggle.

“I will protect people’s minds, eyes and ears from lies, disinformation, and panic. I will protect the truth. I will protect the state’s capabilities, communications, infrastructure, deliver critical cargo, evacuate people, rescue people. I will protect the lives and health of Ukrainians both on the frontline and in civilian life. I will protect the future, education, knowledge, children, and teach lessons against all odds. Protect culture, faith, and each other.

“These are all those who stay here, in their places, all those who say to themselves every day: I can do more, I can help more. I can contribute more!”

Click here for more from President Volodymyr Zelensky

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