Tomorrow, 9 May, will mark the 68th anniversary of the end of the “Great Patriotic War” (called World War II in the West) and another grand parade will roll across the majestic expanse of Red Square in Moscow. 11,000 soldiers will march in perfect coordination and hundreds of military vehicles, airplanes and strategic nuclear forces will be on parade.
Sometimes we’re asked why this is such a big deal in the former Soviet Union and why towns and villages all over the region celebrate with parades of their own. The answer is both complex and simple: Not a single family was spared death and destruction. The Nazi invasion saw 26 to 28 million Soviet citizens die. Soldiers, children, grandparents, parents, Uncles, Aunts, cousins and friends perished either in direct battle, from bombs or things like fires or from starvation. Blood flowed on the streets and rivers ran red in some battles.
Tomorrow every family will sit for dinner at a table with empty seats: usually more than one family member is missing whether they be grandparents or parents or sons/daughters. So when you see those scenes on the news tomorrow night from the main celebration on Moscow’s Red Square, understand that such parades took place by the thousands from small villages to large towns all across the region known as the former Soviet Union.
The price they paid was enormous, so yes, it is a very big deal.