Thursday, May 09, 2013

Russia's Victory Day, 2013

Today is May 9th, Victory Day, when Russia celebrates the end of the Great Patriotic War, the day when Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally to Soviet forces.

Most of us can't imagine having our homeland invaded, seeing our hometown in smoldering ruins, losing fathers, husbands and brothers. But Russia's oldest generation has been there.

The losses suffered by Russia during the war were massive. One figure is 27,000,000 lives lost and, come to think of it, that figure might be for Soviet forces combined. And now, 68 years later, cities across this vast land stop to honor military heroes with parades. You might enjoy having a look at May 9th stories I've posted in recent years, 2011, 2010 and 2008 with photos that offer a glimpse into the lives of the Russian people.

So today I managed to catch only the very end of the parade when folks were heading home, which allowed me to cross paths with some interesting characters. Care to meet a few?

First, let's rewind a bit for a look at the parade staging grounds, Theatre Square, opposite Stella, the towering obelisk, which overlooks the Don Steppe and commemorates the end of Nazi occupation.

Theatre Square bus stop: *9th of May, Day of Victory!*

Theatre Square: Bank building boasts a massive banner: *9th of May, Day of Victory!*

This family reminded me that looks can be deceiving. The man there looked a little rough, but I asked anyway to take their photo. They happily obliged and then he offered to take my photo.

Are you a vet? I asked, noticing his metals. Yes, he served in Chechnya.

Accordian player, probably a vet himself, adds to atmosphere and hopes to make a few extra rubles.

This veteran served in Afghanistan.

This lady went off to war in her teens. Even on this holiday in her honor, she seemed a little testy. . . Better to be a little snarly, I'd say, then to act happy in public and then later turn to alcohol.

In front of Rostov Kino, the movie theatre, displays of vehicles and uniforms from World War II. 

Photo op with period uniforms and vehicles.

Now here's a happy veteran. She's having quite a day with her granddaughter. 

Busloads of veterans such as these headed through the cheering crowd into the Musical Theatre for lunch. Wanted to badger them with questions, but. . .

At a busstop, what a lovely lady. She joined the war effort at age 18.

Are you a vet? I asked the young man here. Guessing he's got dreams. . .

Half a block away, we could hear this guy bellowing. He was still in parade mode, marching through the now-empty street and yelling something about the president. Seems he's accusing the president of betraying an officer served in Chechnya and then had legal problems. Trust Mr Stripe has calmed down by now.

Here's Yours Truly with a statue honoring mothers, inscribed with a quote from Maxim Gorky.

And there you have it, dear blog reader, a look at May 9th holiday in a typical Russian city. Have you have been in Russia on May 9th?