In Ex-Soviet States

In Ex-Soviet States

In the Former Soviet Union, Victory Day is recognized in two fashions: federal and familial.

Since 1945 and 1995 respectively, the USSR and the Russian Federation have touted their military might with extravagant displays of artillery and troop marches outside the Kremlin in the Red Square. 1 These demonstrations reverberated in the city squares and memorial grounds of the pseudocapitals of various republics in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarussia, and other states, where veterans gather in uniform along with their extensive families, close friends, and other enlisted men. 2 Marching bands sounded before the deliverance of nostalgic speeches, dinner processions with kindred memories and 100-gram toasts of reverence.
Since 1965, Victory Day has been recognized as “a day of non-labour,” when men and women did not work and classes were dismissed, as families were encouraged, and expected, to pay their respects to the veterans who passed.  In fact, children were lead from schools by their teachers to local Tombs of the Unknown Soldier. “The day’s processions were more about mourning losses and paying respect than entertaining songs and playful festivities,” a veteran named Yakov of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine described. 3All generations, young and old, were involved in with their families, marching with flowers to cemeteries, and echoing stories of their grandfathers to their families.

Upon paying respects at the graves of their ancestors and loved ones, families would solemnly dine with their friends, watching the federal military parade on television while again toasting to those who passed. For years this tradition was uninterrupted until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, putting the federal parade on hiatus till 1995. 4However, in Soviet-born culture, families continually imprinted the historical and familial significance of World War II, commonly known as the Great Patriotic War by Russian-speakers, on their children and continually set up convocations among veterans to commemorate Victory Day on their day off.
While there is no America equivalent to the holiday, Memorial Day comes close by commemorating the war dead, but falls short in national involvement. However, upon immigrating to New York, ex-Soviets would draw few processional similarities between the two holidays.

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To see this year’s parade, click below.

In Honor of Victory: Full video of Red Square 2011 military parade (Youtube)

  1. “Victory Day.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011. <>.
  2. Kleyner, Garik. Personal Interview by Svyatoslav Brodetskiy. 05 May 2011. 16 May 2011.
  3. Anonymous, Yakov. Personal Interview by Svyatoslav Brodetskiy. 09 May 2011. 16 May 2011.
  4. 66th Victory Day Parade. RussiaToday: Web. 16 May 2011. <>. <>.

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