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.
WASHINGTON, April 24. /TASS/. The Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, diplomats from the Russian embassy, World War II veterans who fought on the Soviet Front, and representatives of CIS member-states took part in a flower-laying ceremony on Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington. They laid flowers at the Spirit of the Elbe memorial marker. The annual ceremony commemorates the historic meeting of Soviet and American soldiers on the River Elbe on April 25, 1945. Staff members of the embassies of Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Belarus, as well as former Soviet veterans and veterans of the US Armed Forces brought flowers to the marker, too. US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, attended the ceremony at the head of a delegation of the US Department of State. A separate flower was laid by members of the joint US-Russian commission for prisoners of war and missing in action. The memorial slab at Arlington National Cemetery was unveiled in April 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Linkup on the Elbe. An inscription on the slab reads, "In recognition of the cooperation by American, Soviet and Allied armed forces during World War II. This marker symbolizes the link up of Soviet and American elements at the Elbe River on 15 April 1945. In tribute to the partnership in the battle against tyranny."
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.