Monday, May 09, 2011

Victory Day, a Sacred Day

May 9th is a sacred day across Russia. Today is the 66th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi troops to allied forces. Every Soviet family was affected by the war. According to Russia Today, 27 million Soviets died whereas the combined deaths from the United States and United Kingdom were less than 1 million.

This evening I paid a visit to Victoria, my neighbor upstairs (double-click photos to enlarge). We sat at her kitchen table where she spread out photos and medals. Her family's story is typical: Her father Oleg, center, was a pilot before he was shot down and killed on his first flight in September, 1941. Two months later, Victoria was born, named in a spirit of optimism.

Victoria's mother spoke fluent German, which got her a job as translator for the Nazis. Later, she was sent to prison for collaborating with the enemy. Enter our hero, Oleg, far left, a classmate of Mama's who had loved her from afar during their teens. Oleg was an army physician, serving on the front. He managed to get Mama released from prison and sent home to be with little Victoria. They married and after the war, it was Oleg who would be a father to Victoria during her childhood and youth. Her mother died at 55 but Oleg lived considerably longer. Both are buried here in Rostov-on-Don. Victoria plans to visit the cemetery soon to decorate their graves.

With dear sister Nina, left, a friend from church, in front of a neighborhood cultural center. The banner proclaims, *(Congratulations) with the Great Victory!*

Elena Lalaevna, our sister from church is a decorated war hero, having served as a nurse in a army hospital near Volgograd, then Stalingrad. Once again this year, she received personal congratulations from Russian President Dimitry Medvedev.

Area veterans pictured on a billboard, downtown Rostov. As you can imagine, the number of veterans is dwindles daily. For lots more great photos, please check out these photos and videos. Last year, I spent a morning wandering around downtown and shooting everything. Just for you!

Now let's turn our attention 1,000 kilometers north to Moscow. Russian parades are something to behold, particular those held in Moscow. Red Square is the size of 12 football fields, the perfect staging area for displays of troops and military hardware. According to Russia Today, 20 thousand troops participated in today's parade. Magnificent as it was, last year's was even bigger, being the 65th anniversary. Imagine: US troops marched through Red Square.

The Russian flag, center, is flanked by the Rostov city flag, right, and that of the Rostov Region, left. I'm thankful to be living under the Russian flag versus the Communist flag or that of the Fascists. We can be so grateful to Soviet troops who stopped them. Their efforts came with a very high price tag and on May the 9th, Victory Day, the entire country stops to pay them respect.


Anonymous said...

I remember 10 years ago when I was there on Victory Day, it was amazing to see the honor given to the military.
One of my best memories was meeting Elena Lalaevna. What a precious woman she is and what a lovely smile and warm heart! Charlia Pence

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

In North American VE day is barely acknowledged these days. We are not taught enough about the Soviet disproportionate loss of life. If the truth were known the Soviets won the war by destroying the Nazi armies that might have othewise been turned on the western front.

All during the cold war I believed no one wanted to avoid war more than the Russians. They knew, first hand, what suffering war brings.

Anonymous said...

We live on the flight path of the helicopters as they fly down to Red Square for the parade. Last year, as you say, there were many more planes and so on. Our little boy (not yet 2) watched some of the parade on the TV, and the flyover of course. He began to march around the room to join in! It's good to remember the veterans and the sacrifice people made.

Chad and Emily said...

Eileen, I came across your blog in my search for information about Rostov-on-Don where we will be traveling quite soon to meet a little girl we are hoping to adopt. Would it be possible for me to email you? I would like to ask some questions and make a connection with your ministry while we are there. Thank you and God bless you and your work in Russia! ~ Emily

Kim Kamin said...

Hi Eileen, I know it has been a long time since we have seen each other. While I was at AAFCS Janet Edel asked me how you were doing(Texans know everyone and everything), I did not know but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blogs and newsletters. I am now coordinating the International Baccalaureate program at my high school. I am very much into seeing the world as a very small place.


Kim Kamin said...

I forgot to leave my e-mail address,

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zemi-san said...

Hello Eileen, Thank you very much for nice and interesting blogs. You have mentioned you are travelling to Kiev sometimes. have you been in Kiev many times? Have you seen many places? If you come again, please, tell when and where, it will be nice and look around Kiev. Viktor

Grigoriy Stepanenko said...

"the number of veterans is dwindles daily"... It's really terrible...
We are all thankful to them to be living in peace, and it would be better, I think, to appreciate their help while they're alive. Yes, I know all those gifts and parades, I mean we should pay them much more attention all the year round, they need it, until it's too late... They did not deserve being alone. Thank you for this review, your words made me think of my grandpa, I'm going to call him up)