It is a truly moving experience for me to join you at this meaningful place.
We are gathered beside the Shelter of Peace, a monument which bears witness to the bravery shown by the Maltese people during a dark period in our recent history. The George Cross, which was bestowed upon the people of Malta for their bravery, is embroidered onto the Maltese flag, the most recognisable image of our nation. I believe that the George Cross is not only a memory of the Second World War, but a sign of our resilience.
The Maltese, travelling across the globe, facing challenges far away from home, to search for better opportunities, have borne witness of similar resilience. Many of us remember hearing about the Second World War from our parents or grandparents. This Shelter of Peace offers us an opportunity to recognise their sacrifice. It provides a space to celebrate their lives, their resilience, and their bravery.
This space is an invitation to learn about the hardship they faced, and in the process, to nurture a spirit of solidarity, with those who are still suffering through violence and oppression, in contemporary times.
Standing here, and thinking of the struggles endured by the Maltese, I cannot help thinking of others who are going through similar distress as we speak.
Our prayers go out to all those who are living in conflict zones, and those who have died as part of the ongoing Wars. Our hearts are with all victims and their families, in such circumstances.
We must fight to preserve our values, of faith, hope, charity, peace, fortitude, temperance, justice and prudence. It is upon these values that we must keep building communities that are self-confident, resilient, and respectful of the dignity of all, values that are promoted by this very shrine.
These values must be part of each one of us.
It is our duty to pass them down to our children, and it is the responsibility of every new generation to decide what they shall do with this powerful legacy. It is my hope that Malta, by keeping true to these values, shall continue to offer a central point where cultures from the global North and global South, from the cultures of the East and the West, can come together in respect and solidarity.
The memory of our forefathers’ suffering teaches us the great importance of human connections. It shows us that if we can live with our history, and if we can learn from it, then we can connect with the suffering, and the histories, of others. We can reach out to them, and truly know them.
This is why Malta is dedicated to peace, to be a beacon of hope at the crossroads of civilizations and cultures in the middle of the Mediterranean.
Malta will continue to devote its efforts to bring together in dialogue all nations, and to promote a culture of peace.
My appeal to all Maltese, wherever they might be, is to be a shining example of the fundamental values that promote unity and peace.