During his visit to Mariupol, Donetsk region, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Ukrainian servicemen on the Day of Defenders of Ukraine and presented state awards.
"Now I am here, in the east of Ukraine, in the city of Mariupol. In its history, as well as in the history of many cities of our Ukrainian Donbas, there are at least three very important dates: September 10, 1943, when Mariupol was liberated by our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. June 13, 2014, when the city was liberated by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And October 14 every year, when grandparents and grandchildren, and in general hundreds of thousands of the best sons and daughters of our homeland celebrate a professional holiday - the Day of Defenders of Ukraine," said the President.
The President reminded that in addition to Mariupol, in 2014 Lyman, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, Kostiantynivka, Bakhmut, Siversk, Toretsk, Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Shchastya, Lysychansk and many other cities of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were liberated from occupation and the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine were preserved.
"Thousands of heroes have done this hard and very important job at the cost of their lives. And we will never forget everyone who died defending our state," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The attendees honored the memory of the deceased with a moment of silence.
The Head of State recalled the words of the German and French historian Jean Benoı̂t Scherer, who described the Zaporozhian Cossacks in his chronicle: “Raised as Spartans and accustomed to war as Romans, they however never sought to conquer foreign lands. Only to protect their altars and hearths. What they could never come to terms with is non-freedom".
"The goal of our modern army of Ukraine is to inherit and multiply the glorious traditions of the Zaporozhian Sich," the President said.
At the same time, the Head of State called for thinking beyond stereotypes and destroying them. He stressed that the defenders of Ukraine are not only brave Ukrainian servicemen, men and women. They are, in particular, volunteers who in 2014 simply went from Maidan to the east to defend the Homeland.
"Without armor, but with a steel spirit. In sneakers, T-shirts, without uniform, but everyone recognized each other by eyes full of righteous wrath from that injustice. The desire and readiness to defend their Ukrainian homeland from Russian aggression with anything - even with a stick, even with bare hands," the President said.
The defenders of Ukraine are also volunteers who were in touch 24/7 and ensured that the Ukrainian military on the frontline had the necessary items, the President said.
"Volunteers are a separate kind of troops - forces with a big heart," he added.
According to the President, doctors, nurses and paramedics who went to the frontline to save the lives of soldiers in the terrible conditions of the war also played a huge role in defending Ukraine.
"How many fighters have not lost limbs thanks to their timely and important help. How many have not lost heart, have not lost faith in people thanks to their selfless help,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.
"Our defenders are also our journalists. Those who were true to the standards of their profession. Who called war a war. Who protected our minds, our logic, our critical thinking… Our defenders are musicians, actors and other cultural figures who have been on the frontline since the first days, defending the souls of our fighters, giving happiness to those who will go to battle tomorrow, and anything can happen," the President said, expressing his belief that it also motivated Ukrainian soldiers to return alive.
Ukrainian defenders are also our lawyers and diplomats who have been fighting for Ukraine in the legal field and in the international arena since 2014. And also - military chaplains who fight with the enemy with their prayers, the Head of State added.
Another important type of troops, according to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are military families: children, wives, parents.
"It simply can’t be forgotten. And it is written by a child's hand on a picture made by your child. And with this picture in a breast pocket warriors go to battle. And this is your best amulet," the President said.
"These are all our defenders. How many? Millions. And, being in the JFO area today, I am very glad to have the opportunity to congratulate all of you on this great national holiday - the Day of Defenders of Ukraine," he added.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured that the Ukrainian state will protect the people who protect it.
"On land, at sea, in the air, in cyberspace. For us, for the future. For peace. For the sake of future peace," he stressed.
In addition, the Head of State presented state awards to servicemen of the Armed Forces and other military formations and law enforcement agencies, as well as awarded the highest military and special ranks.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy got himself acquainted with the Concept of Development of the Maritime Guard of the State Border Service of Ukraine, which has been operating since June 2019, the plans to upgrade the fleet, as well as planned international projects aimed to develop maritime security infrastructure of the State Border Service of Ukraine.