Victory Day


70 years ago, on the 8th of May, in a German city full of warring troops, a war was ended. Germany surrendered after Berlin was taken, and the Nazi party leader, Adolf Hitler, committed suicide just a week before. Euphoria erupted among Allied soldiers all over Europe: six long years of war in Europe had come to a close, taking 29 million lives and one of the highest rates of civilian casualties in recorded history.

Now, a celebratory mood still remains within the people of Europe, as well as all over the world. The first week of May contains national holidays for many European countries: all celebrating the triumph in World War II, some as Liberation Day, some as Victory Day. Most of them celebrate the 8th of May. In many Eastern European countries, Victory Day is celebrated on the 9th, because of time zones. Regardless of date, the purpose is still the same – to commemorate the ending of a terrible time for humanity, a haunting memory for many individuals.

However, even though the number of people who knew the horrors of the war are dwindling as old age nears, the spirit of Victory Day still seems ever-present in modern day times. In Russia, the 2015 Victory Parade celebrates this important date for the country, as well as to commemorate the 70th Victory Day celebration – a parade that I myself have watched through TV, showcasing both the old and the new of the Russian Federation, coming together as one in a celebration of past victory, and present peace.

As an avid fan of tanks and armored vehicles, I was quite enthusiastic for a chance to see these steel behemoths in the parade; particularly for the T-34’s and SU-100’s, vehicles that pushed their way to Berlin 70 years ago, and have been parading through the streets of Moscow ever since, on the 9th of May. In addition to these old parade regulars is the new T-14 Armata, the new Russian tank that further symbolizes the advancement of human ingenuity, now used for protection rather than war.

But these past 70 years have not always been peaceful. Civil wars, border conflicts, minor skirmishes and terrorism was, and is, still a part of our lives, even if they are simply behind the TV screen for us. Even the original alliance itself is in a heated discussion and economic sanction over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the War in Donbass. However, no conflict as of yet has been as massive and catastrophic as World War II – being one of the most peaceful times yet in history, when technological advances replaces war updates on the nightly news (well, mostly), when countries build skyscrapers and high rises instead of tanks and battleships (again, mostly), and politicians build a web of friendship rather than a web of lies (though they could be lying about the friendship… ugh, forget it).

Victory Day has been a reminder of this peace; a reminder that 29 million people died in a fight to eventually give us this peace, to give us this freedom to sit here and read this article, perhaps in an air-conditioned room in a comfortable chair. Be thankful for this chance; because now is the time to make a difference to the world in a new era of development, and we just happened to live right in it.