9 May – Victory Day
May 8, 2013 2 Comments
This was a special date in the Soviet Union. It still is in many republics of the former USSR – first and foremost in the Russian Federation. 9 May is the Day that commemorates the country’s and its allies Victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941 -1945 World War II.
In this part of the world, it is known as ‘The Great Patriotic War’ in which the victory was dearly-bought. The Soviet Union took the major blow of the German ‘military machine’ and bore the main burden having sustained the biggest human and economic losses of all countries involved. Its population losses are estimated at 26,6 million.
For me and, I know, many others, 9 May is among the most sacred commemorations, similar in spirit to that of the Anzac Day in Australia. There was no family in the Soviet Union that was not affected by the war. A family member(s) would have either been on the front-line or worked their guts off in the rear. During the war, millions of women waited for their loved ones to come back home. As it was, many were on tenterhooks in wain. Their sons, husbands or brothers never returned having been killed or gone missing in combat, or by becoming POWs and dying in captivity. My parents’ families were lucky as both my grand-fathers came from the war alive. They did have terrible life-threatening wounds sustained in combat.
My father’s dad, Makhmud Shagaev, was conscripted in 1941 and served until 1946. He came home almost one year after the end of war. Apart from taking part in combat operations, Makhmud served in the front-line counter-espionage unit. For his courage, he was decorated with several medals and the ‘Red Star’ order.
My mother’s father, Mustakhim Akbarov, also served during the entire war period from 1941 until 1945. As an infantry ‘private’, Mustakhim took part in the crucial ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘Rzhev’ battles, and others. For his bravery in combat, he was decorated by several medals and the order of ‘The Patriotic War’.
Both my grand-fathers passed away some time ago. But I will always remember them and what they did as millions of other veterans during the war and afterwards rebuilding a destroyed country.
Lest we forget.
Many people were asking about the ribbon that I was wearing in recent days. Here is the explanation:
‘The Ribbon of St George or St. George’s Ribbon constitutes one of the most recognized and respected symbols of military valour in modern Russia. It is widely associated with the commemoration of World War II and especially with the units who were awarded the collective Guard battle honours during the conflict. The ribbon consists of a black and orange bicolours with three black and two orange stripes. The pattern is thought to symbolize gunpowder and fire.
Since the 60th anniversary of the Victory Day in 2005, the ribbon is freely worn by civilians in Russia and other former republics of the USSR as an act of commemoration and remembrance. It has been distributed in the preparation for the event and is widely seen on wrists, lapels, and cars. The motto that goes with it is “We remember, we are proud!”