Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vicory Day May 9, 2012 (Russia though the back door)

Today Russia celebrates Victory Day, the day the Germans surrendered ending World War II in Europe.  It is one of the biggest holidays of the year.  Unlike many holidays in the U.S., the purpose behind this holiday is not lost on the Russians.  There was a big military parade downtown, but  KLynn and I drove to a park quite a ways from downtown, near my office, and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the middle of a local celebration.  It was far away from the pageantry of Red Square and was a genuine and heartfelt celebratory event.  We felt that we were blessed to get a peek into the soul of the Russian people.  I'm growing to love and appreciate them more the longer I'm here.  A few pictures follow:

These two woman were some of the WORST singers I have ever heard, but their enthusiasm made up for what they lacked in talent.  They sang period songs that were popular during the war.  This was a little "side stage" and very few people heard them.  It rained quite heavily earlier in the day, which I'm sure kept a lot of the expected crowd away.

This group sang Cossack folk songs.  They weren't professional quality by any means, but it was the real thing and KLynn and I enjoyed them immensely.  A couple of them spoke some English and we were able to visit with them. I felt they gave us a slice of real Russian culture.  I appreciate how they are preserving their heritage.

The Cossack folk group consented to a picture with KLynn.  I gave them my business card and they promised to send me their web site.

This booth paid tribute to a military unit. It was quite touching.

I particularly appreciated the old photographs of soldiers.

The helmet shows bullet holes, into which someone placed flowers.  Virtually every Russian family lost multiple loved ones during the war. 

These little boys played the balalaika.  They were way cute.  A lot of the children wore the old military style caps that were sold for the event.  We bought some for our grandchildren of course.

The veterans are specially honored on Victory Day.  This old gentleman was wearing his ribbons and carrying flowers that people gave him.  I wonder how many of our Viet Nam veterans ever feel appreciated like this.

The girls wore the military style hats and the ribbons signifying Victory Day.,

This little boy took himself very seriously.
 This is the main stage that was set up for the day.  Here a group of young men were enacting scenes from the war period.
 This is the audience in front of the main stage.  The front was reserved for veterans and their widows, all of whom had flowers.  Some wore their husbands' medals.

This is a group of folk dancers on the main stage.  The sign on the back of the stage says Victory!  KLynn and I are so glad we happened on this celebration.  We won't miss it next year.  If anyone plans to visit us in Moscow, May 9 is a good time to come.

Changing the subject, a few weeks ago KLynn and I attended a "town meeting" hosted by U.S. Ambassador McFaul at Spasso House, his official residence.  It was an interesting event.  As you can see, a lot of people were there and we were well fed.

This is a view of the chandelier in the reception room at Spasso House.

This is Ambassador McFaul speaking to the group.  He is a very gifted speaker.

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