Today We Celebrate Victory Day

There’s probably not a single Russian family that wasn’t touched by the Second World War, or the Great Patriotic War as it is called in Russia and many former Soviet republics. The years 1941 – 1945 are engraved in all of us, even generations removed from the actual war, as the years of sacrifice, suffering, and faith in victory. It’s what we think about in times of hardship even now – the songs that we sang as kids at school about how victory is to be achieved it at any cost. And the cost was great.

When I think about the war, I think about my grandmother who lost her mother and aunt during the Battle of Stalingrad and hid in a dirt dugout before her father rescued her months later. Even with all the horrors she witnessed as a child, at 88 today she is the most resilient, optimistic and loving person I know.

When I think about the war, I think about my mother’s aunt, who stayed in Leningrad during the Siege, and not only survived, but also managed to have and raise a baby.

When I think about the war, I think about my grandfather who fought all the way to Berlin and never talked about the war. Ever.

War is personal to me and just about everyone I know.

I may have mixed feelings about Georgian ribbons – originally used in mid 2000s as a way to remember those who died – pinned to everything from chests to cars. But I know it comes from the place of sacrifice being sacred. And I respect that.

Today, thousands of people across Russia will participate in the “Immortal Regiment” march. Ordinary citizens will walk along central streets bearing portraits of their loved ones who ensured the defeat of a great evil. I think that people are alive as long as they’re remembered, and their sacrifice is not forgotten.

All of us in St. Petersburg know that we are here today because millions of people in Russia, and in allied countries, didn’t give up.

Military parade on the Red Square in Moscow airs at 10 am on the central TV channels.

In St. Petersburg, “Immortal Regiment” will march along Nevsky Prospect starting at 3 pm.

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