This is the Monument to the Unknown Sailor in Odessa, Ukraine. Every year on the 9th of May my Dad took me there to lay some flowers and in a moment of silence remember his father and more than 20 million Soviet people who were killed in the World War II.
Victory Day was probably the holiest holiday in the USSR. Every family was touched by the war, many families lost multiple members, many came home crippled both physically and mentally, many were sent to camps right after the war. The 9th of May was celebrated with military parades and salutes, and somber remembrance of the loved ones who didn’t come back, their memory fading away and slowly becoming synonymous with the yellowing photographs and letters from the front. Every town and village had a monument dedicated to the war, the fallen soldiers, veterans and survivors. Whether it was the tallest sculpture in the world at the site of the Battle of Stalingrad or a small bronze-painted soldier at the village cemetery, people gathered to remember, to cry, to sing, to drink and cry some more.
During more recent times the War became a controversial subject, turned out that many facts were covered up by the government to drum up patriotism without recognizing the horrors and unnecessary suffering inflicted by said government. The history we learned was questioned and re-written. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the effort was heroic, the sacrifice was unimaginable, pain and misery – unbearable, and the result was historic. Even the youngest veterans are in their late eighties now, soon there won’t be any of them around to remind us how much the Victory cost us as the people. How do you measure up to the greatness?
Below is a Victory Parade on the Red Square in Moscow in 1945.