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.”

“Glory to our brothers in arms”

Read the placards welcoming Western troops for the May 9th Victory Day parade in Moscow. This year, on the 65th anniversary of victory, Western military personnel will participate in the parade for the first time. Makes me glad, personally.

There’s been some stink raised by the Communists over this, but the Communists relish every opportunity to raise a stink. They’re as PR-savvy as anyone, these days.

Here are some pictures from the V-Day Parade rehearsal (from a charmingly disgruntled photographer who complains of lack of adequate press space and the sheer amount of rehearsals this year – as he puts it, “I suggest next year we start rehearsals in January, that way we can have 30 – 50 parades”).

And do you see those planes? I saw them passing over the city from my office window yesterday morning. Every normal Muscovite is jaded when it comes to these sights – I’m the one who still erupts in childish glee, but there are personal reasons for that.

V-Day makes me miss my grandfather. I wasn’t there to bury him. And so it goes.