Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, or the Great Patriotic war, as it is known in Russia, with the signing of unconditional surrender of the Nazis (the German Instrument of Surrender ).
And, yet, today there will be no public gathering or celebratory parade or march in Russia. This is not to say, though, that it is the first time this happens in 75 years of history.
During Soviet times, the Victory Day Parade actually took place only four times, first every 20 years (1945, 1965 and 1985) and then in 1990, a sort of last celebration of past grandeur just before the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.
In 1995, right in the middle of one of Russia’s bleakest decades, it was decided that the celebration should take place every year, to give people a sense of what could be achieved (and had been achieved!) through unity and a common goal even in the hardest of times. Since then the celebration actually has been celebrated every year, except for today.
Since 2012 the celebration took on an even stronger meaning of remembrance and thankfulness for those who had given their lives to achieve the result of victory in the war and, thus, freedom from the foreign invader, with the addition of the Immortal Regiment march.
You can read a lot more about this tradition in this post: Victory Day and the Immortal Regiment.
While during Soviet times the parade was mostly a display of military power and might, directed more at the “outside world” then at the citizen, in the “Russian years” it has turned much more in a moment of pride for the role of the Motherland in the past as well as in the present.
It came to symbolise the return of Russia on the World stage as an absolute main player (a role it had lost, almost completely, in the 1990s) and a celebration of its rich history, often mixed with some nostalgia for the bygone times of the USSR.
The main sentiment, especially with the addition of the Immortal Regiment march was that the past, and especially the people who lived through it, were gone, but not forgotten.
These people had lost, but deserve to be remembered.
The nation had won (the Soviet Union won the war and Russia won its independence from the Soviet Union), but the people remembered on May 9th are those who lost personally to allow for these victories.
They have lost their lives, or their ideals, their vision of the world or the collective, but if Russia is where it stands to day, much is owed to them.
Today Russia is again fighting a dangerous, deadly enemy, this time in the form of a virus, and today because of quarantine and self-isolation, people can not be marching in the streets.
Today, more than ever, the people they celebrate every May 9th are gone, not forgotten. As are gone, but not forgotten the parade and the Immortal Regiment march.
Moscow really tried to make the best of a very difficult situation, and it decorated the streets and squares as if the parade had taken place. It has also performed the aerial part of the parade, with airplanes of all kinds crossing the skies of the Capital at low altitude and painting them with the colours of the Russian flag.
But in spite of that all Russians deeply feel the lack of this event where they can meet each other in the streets, march together in celebration, feel the closeness of one another and, most of all, feel like one, invincible people that can rise to any challenge.
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