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May 9th in Ukraine

Serge AMay 9, 2022 (0)

Ukraine - May 9th commemoration - with a different message.

It should come as no surprise that May 9 was more subdued than usual this year. Although it was never a major celebration in Ukraine, the way it is in Russia, people always welcomed the holiday. The beginning of May usually brings sunny weather, and anyway, a few raindrops won't stop people from getting together for picnics, BBQs and a round or two. 

But May 9 is not a celebration. It is a day of remembrance, a day that asks society to commemorate the end of horrors, the close of a chapter when humanity failed. This was the day the Soviet Union officially announced victory over Nazi Germany. May 8 is recognized elsewhere as VE Day – E for Europe -- but the signing took place in Berlin late in the evening of May 8 and because of the difference in time zones it was already May 9 in Moscow. 

It is no secret that Russia based its ideology on old Soviet legacy. Russians have the same national anthem as did the Soviets. The words are different, but their meaning is the same, and the song is sung in the same manner with the music. So, after Russia started a monstrous war on Ukrainian soil, how can Ukrainians even think about a picnic, given that May 9 isn't even a celebration, but rather a commemoration.

Well, the answer is they can't, and they shouldn't. The Russians have turned it into an occasion to party. Not only do Russians celebrate this day instead of remembering it, but they also get ridiculously drunk in public places and start swimming in municipal fountains. That's what you call a Russian tradition of celebrating these days. It's no wonder they also have their own moral representation of how wars should be fought. Apparently, it is okay to murder, rape and torture on top of breaching the borders of a sovereign country and bombing the hell out of it.

Russia May 9th celebration. Children in the featured video are singing - "A very cool commander will call us to our last battle. Uncle Vova we are with you" followed by a Nazi salute.

The Ukrainian government advised people not to gather in crowds for fear of terrorist attacks by the Russian military. The elderly still visit monuments, so policemen escort small groups and stay with them as they lay flowers, then escort them back to safety and lead the next batch. I am here, on the ground in Ukraine, and I have yet to see young adults or children visiting these monuments. 

The BBQ and drinks must wait too. It is difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy pleasant surroundings, fair weather and the company of friends, especially when the dearest of them are on the front lines risking their lives. I don't feel like enjoying myself and I don't feel like celebrating anything that has to do with Russia and its dark, evil ways.

Serge A is of Ukrainian descent, grew up in Brooklyn and is volunteering in Ukraine as a legally armed member of a Territorial Defense Group. He was a columnist for the newspaper at Pace University which he attended as an undergrad. 


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