Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Non-Event In US.

Yet, in Russia it matters, still--and will continue to matter, no matter what. The memory is always there. Victory Day is coming and there will be, of course, parade and other events but it will be the march of Immortal Regiment which will again number in hundreds of thousands or even millions in Moscow and Leningrad (it is Leningrad on this day) and in millions all over Russia. These news, however, are not going to make front pages of US newspapers nor are going to be reported in prime-time on TV.

Yet, today all this reminiscence means very little in the US, which to a large degree owes its dominance to the most destructive war in human history. It is a very complex issue, of course. It is also a very sensitive one but no matter what, it is always on 25 April that Russians mark what they call Meeting on Elbe, which in many important respects then, in 1945, was viewed almost as a sign, anticipation of better things to come in the wake of a horrendous price Soviet Union payed. It was not meant to be, but for a moment it seemed possible. In the end Marshal Konev presented Omar Bradley with beautiful stallion and Omar Bradley presented Konev with his own personal Jeep filled to the top with cartons of loved by every Red Army servicemen, from enlisted to Marshal, Camel cigarettes, known to Red Army as "tropheinye" (trophy) because of those being available through captured Wehrmacht's stores at the Eastern Front.

That moment of Allied amity ended really fast, but the photo of 2nd Lieutenant William Robertson and Lieutenant Alexander Sylvashko remains ingrained in Russian memory forever. Those were People, from the capital P. And the only thing we can do for future generations, without unnecessary pathos or sappy sentimentalism, is to keep those memories alive. We may yet get the ultimate need for those memories. 

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