Happy Victory Day from Moscow

Deputy squadron commander, Hero of the Soviet Union, Maria Dolina
After a successful breach of the Leningrad blockade
Snipers Faina Yakimova, Roza Shanina and Lidia Volodina
My great aunt, Evgenia Myasnikova. I owe her.
I've got no words that can describe this one
Soldiers on break with a "spoil of war"
Very famous picture. I like to call it "Do not go gentle into that good night"
My grandfather: Major General Pyotr Pavlovich Nistratov. The person I miss most on this day.

Every spark of friendship and love will die without a home. Hear the soldier groan, “We’ll go at it alone.” – Arcade Fire

And as for modern observations, check out a couple of videos I took of planes over Moscow today (I’m uploading a couple of the really short ones, but they kept coming overhead for a while. I felt like a kid again.) You can hear the screaming start off in the distance, as the planes are spotted by the people in the next street over.

For some reason, this year, it’s especially hard for me to look at pictures of WWII. It’s hard to consider the reasons why we hang on to our military so dearly, on this day in particular. Over 25 million dead is more than a statistic, it’s a seismic wave.

“You were born for the saddle,” my grandfather once told me, after he saw me ride for the first time, in America. I will never forget his happiness on that day, the way he smiled as if I had handed him a present, and all I had done was emerge from behind a line of trees, on an Appaloosa or some mix thereof, and trot up toward him. And then he paused, and added, seemingly randomly – and I will never forget his words, or his eyes behind his glasses when he said it – “Remember when to hold on.”

14 thoughts on “Happy Victory Day from Moscow

  1. i love that the google ad on your site is as follows (targeted to my USA location, likely):

    Ads by Google
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    it’s really quite sad…

  2. I love your writing about Den Pobedy, because you write about the family nature of the holiday, not the bombastic public spectacle. I’m in the middle of reading “Red Sky, Black Death,” a translation of Anna Timofeeva-Yegorova’s memoir of her years as a highly decorated combat fighter pilot during the war. I think you would appreciate her story.

    http://redskyblackdeath.wordpress.com/
    http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%95%D0%B3%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0,_%D0%90%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%B0_%D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BD%D0%B0

  3. Well, I’m a huge slut for public spectacle of all kinds, don’t get me wrong. 😉 And granddad, being who he was, had taught us all how to get the best out of it. But some things will always be more important.

    Thanks for the recommendation, I should check it out. 🙂

  4. What a stunning post, Nat. I have no words.

    I know it was a while ago but I am sorry about your loss.

  5. Thanks for that link, Joy. I’m looking forward to reading that one. I’m interested in WWII history too. I just hope I can find a private place to read it. To say Red Sky Black Death looks like a tear-jerker is a serious understatement.

  6. Xena, it’s actually not a tear-jerker. Yegorova describes terrible, tragic things that happened, but she also describes the sheer thrill of becoming one of the Soviet Union’s top fighter pilots in the course of fighting the war. There’s fascinating stuff about the Southern Front that I hadn’t known, certainly very sad moments when her comrades are killed, but the general tone is one of cheerful stoicism. She talks a lot about the friendship and laughter and team spirit of her squadron, and how that was how they coped.

    Kim Green, the co-translator and editor, is also a pilot, and she spent a lot of time with Yegorova and other Soviet women pilots during the book project. The book is almost as much about love of flying as it is about World War II.

  7. Thanks Joy. That’s nice to know. War& killing& concentration camps are still a soft spot for me, though. Even after watching the special features and knowing how the squib effects, etc. are set up, some of Spielberg’s movies still get me a little choked up. I had to watch Braveheart 9 times before I could watch the last few minutes dry-eyed. 7 of those were AFTER I looked into the historical inaccuracies in the dramatization.

    Strange how some of us never get fully desensitized to that sort of thing, isn’t it?

    It looks like an amazing story, whether it’ll get me all girlie or not.

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