Friday, May 9, 2008

Victory Day!

Today is Victory Day in Russia. It is their national holiday observing the end of WW II and is celebrated one day later than the traditional VE Day. The senior Russian officer present at the signing in Reims did not have authority to accept the surrender so the Russians organized a second ceremony in Berlin with Marshall Zhukov in attendance. It was 8 May, local time, but 9 May in Moscow due to the time zone difference.

Do not expect ANY stores to be open in Russia today. I have been there over this holiday and it is a day when everything shuts down. There are, of course, parades honoring the veterans. But the Russians take it a step further. Its almost as if they try to honor each and every individual who fought the Germans. There are city wide parties where veterans are fed and feted. The television shows old patriotic movies all day long. The old vets put on their best suits and hang their medals on their lapels. Vodka flows freely. I have never witnessed such an outpouring of appreciation and recognition for old soldiers. We in the US are just now beginning to appreciate them, but Russia has been doing it continuously.

There is another interesting veteran related tradition in Russia. Each company has a large bulletin board at the main entrance. On this board are pictures of the "veterani" who work there.

Being of Finnish heritage, I have a love/hate relationship with Russia, but recognizing veterans is something I have to admit that they do very well.

No comments: