A guest post by Tatiana Yugay, faculty member of the state university of Moscow. Published here in occasion of the "Russia day" on June 12
On May 9, 2015, my friends and I participated in the grand manifestation “The Immortal Regiment” in order to commemorate known and unknown heroes of the World War II and the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory.
I arrived at the Belorusskaya metro station at 14 p.m. It was already boozing with hundreds of people carrying portraits of their parents and grandparents. I was afraid that I'd lose my friends in the crowd. Fortunately, we met after some minutes of waiting. Meanwhile, I climbed at the bench and made some shots. Already then, in the closed space of metro, I felt a strong positive energy of participants. Unlike the aggressive metro crowds in the rush hour, they were very kind, polite and … smiling.
When we went out to the Belorusskaya Square, the column had already started to move in the direction of the Tverskaya Street. The organizers were unveiling a huge St. George ribbon. We walked for a while holding it on both sides but there were too many people willing to hold it, so we were driven out.
I was very busy making photos and my friends suggested me more and more interesting personages. There were people of all ways and ages. WWII veterans with “iconostasis” of awards and medals and babies sleeping in buggies. Many people were very well prepared to the event and wore war time attributes, such as helmets, soldier's blouses, all-weather raincoats. We saw a whole families with kids dressed in the military uniform.
Some participants not only carried portraits but had printed them on their T-shirts.
Almost all demonstrators wore forage caps. We bought field caps, too, and they appeared to be very helpful because the sun was rather hot.
I liked very much a boy, wearing war awards of his great grandfather. When I asked him to pose, he straightened his chest. It was obvious that he was very proud of his mission to represent his great grandfather.
The most amazing thing was very high and positive spirit of people. Almost half of million walked in a calm, cheerful and benevolent mood. There weren't any political appeals or slogans, only grateful commemoration of heroes and beautiful nostalgic singing of wartime songs.
One woman began singing “The Cranes” and dozens of young voices picked up a sad motif.
“It seems to me, sometimes, that soldiers
Who didn't come back from bloody battlefields,
They didn't perish once in our earth,
But turned into white cranes”.
When I looked back and saw an ocean of people carrying portraits of their kinsfolk, it seemed to me that all those known and unknown heroes were marching in the same ranks with us. Soldiers of the Great Patriotic War won't die and will stay immortal until their descendants and their country remember them.
While marching, we didn't know how many people participated in the manifestation, but it was clear that there were hundreds of thousands. All the broad Tverskaya Street was full of people. On the whole route from the Belorusskaya railway station to the Red Square, thousands of people with portraits were standing on the sidewalks. So when I heard in the evening news that there were nearly half of a million in Moscow, it wasn't at all a surprise for me. Though, we didn't know that Vladimir Putin participated in the march with the portrait of his father, we felt that he was with us.
This year, the Immortal Regiment was marching in the Red Square for the first time. When we reached the square, everybody was busy making photos and selfies.
It took us two hours and a half to make 2.4 km from Belorusskaya Square to the Red Square along Tverskaya Street. However, the final destination wasn't the end in itself. The main thing was the process of walking, communicating with each other, feeling the unity and solidarity of those around us. It was one of the greatest experience of my life. I've understood some simple and crucial things.
A well-fed and prosperous life relaxes and separates us from each other, but difficulties and dangers drive us together. People of good will prevail in the society but they are worse organized than evil ones.
I'd wish that those politicians who nourish illusions to defeat Russia would watch not only the military parade but the march of the Immortal Regiment, as well. The parade demonstrates the revived military power of Russia and the march shows the great spiritual strength of Russian people. These two components render our country invincible.