Victory Day

Posted: May 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

May 9th was a very special day, Victory Day. It celebrates the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of the European Front of the Second World War. There were various parades and events throughout the city. I met with Lena, a teacher at the private language school in the city, and her family – her husband Vadim and her two sons Kostya and Danya. We watched a mini-parade that went onto Lenin’s Square as well as a very cool demonstration by the Russian police Special Forces. Unfortunately, we were off to the side at bit and the view wasn’t great. They drove in on a troop transport and then rolled off of it and fired blanks in formation. Then, they did a demonstration of hand-to-hand combat and strength in which they broke boards. I was a little depressed with the length of two-by-fours that they broke over the back of one guy. The boards were really long, so they are easier to break. Most Tae Kwon Do demonstration teams do the same breaks with smaller pieces of wood. Also, they didn’t break anything that was on fire. Everything is better with fire! The most impressive part was the fighting. They did excellent take-downs, which were even more spectacular because they did it on asphalt.

My new friends. I wish they could be my souvenirs from Russia.

After the demonstration, we walked along the pedestrian boulevard to the Lenin Memorial where there was a display of military vehicles and some fire equipment. Lena’s husband, Vadim, walked with me. He is a military buff, so he told me about all of the various vehicles. As the battalion stationed near Ulyanovsk is comprised of paratroopers, many of the vehicles were ones, which could be dropped to battlefields by parachute. As to be expected, most of the vehicles on display are older models. The most up-to-date vehicles cannot be put on display for obvious defensive reasons. It was really cool to touch real live troop support vehicles. I also got to get really close to a mobile missile launcher.

What I came to Russia for.

I also got to climb onto two different fire-engines and touch them. The people were surprised that an adult wanted to do that, but Lena explained that I was from America and people were excited. Actually, at one point during the parade, a babushka noticed us speaking English and told me to stand in front of her for a better view.

Sadly, there were no keys. I checked.

Once we had our fill of climbing around vehicles, we headed to an outdoor café at the Lenin Memorial. We had shashlik and ice cream. Also, I was told that it is a tradition to drink vodka on Victory Day in honor of those who died and in celebration of the victory. While we didn’t have vodka, we did enjoy some good scotch. George joined our group after I was a few shots in. After eating and drinking, I headed off to a nearby shooting gallery with Vadim and Kostya. We had fun shooting and I shot well enough that Vadim has agreed to take me out target shooting with him, maybe next weekend. After the shooting, we wandered around some more until finally bidding adieu.

Vadim and I having fun. I got to fire an AK-SU bb-gun. According to Vadim, the AK-SU is for paratroopers.

The 9th was a great day, and I wish every day could be the 9th of May.

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