One of the highest-ranking officers in Nizhny Novgorod answered and said he could let me through. Someone I knew had arranged VIP places for me during the Victory Day parade in Nizhny Novgorod, just next to the tribune with war veterans and on the same level as journalists. Another example of why it’s often good to have contacts in Russia.
Victory Day is a wonderful and important event commemorating the victory of Russia over Nazi Germany.
It’s a day often ignored in the West, leading to great frustration among the Russians. Nearly every Russian family has suffered from the “Great Patriotic War”, of which the death toll was over twenty million for the Soviet Union. The stories about their grandfathers who gave their life for the future of the world are strongly engraved in the memories of many. Without Russia, my country most certainly wouldn’t have freed itself from the Germans. Although, in the West, we like to praise the Americans for it, and forget about the Russians entirely.
After the military parade – something I’m always very skeptical about, I never like the glorification of violence, not for any goal – came what is known as the ‘Бессмертный полк’ or “the regiment of the immortal”. It’s an occurrence which still almost makes me tear up. Family members of fallen people – and, as I said, there are many – will walk in procession, holding up a picture in honour of their loved one who has passed away. Russians who watch the scene from the fences will all continuously shout, “Спасибо! Спасибо!” to express their thankfulness for the ones who gave their lives.
Once, I had also visited a commemoration of another part of history related to World War II. I went to Hiroshima, Japan, for the 69th memorial of the victims of the only nuclear bomb ever dropped on Earth. It was an official gathering of countries (including the perpetrators – the United States) to express that an event like this should never reoccur.