Since I was a child together with my friends we were waiting impatiently for the big and eventful public holiday in May. First of all, to see the heroes (veterans), whom I was perceiving as a superhuman, perhaps due to the strong ideological and social belief in the society. The procedure was to give them flowers and say “Thank you” for the liberation of our motherland. Another crucial “mission” is to lay flowers (tulips) near the monument (that are in every place, even in small villages and towns) to commemorate the relatives who died in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. Exactly the Great Patriotic War as I knew it only like this till the time I went to school and had a history lesson about WWII.
Despite above mentioned, the number of other events was taking place such as the enormous military parades, concerts of the local bands or in bigger cities famous pop stars were singing wartime songs, and everything finished in the evening with firework displays. Every time I felt simultaneously solemnly, excited and joyful! Furthermore, I was extremely proud of my grand grandfather, who was fighting against fascists and returned back from war safe and sound. In general, 9th of May was always a time to praise the triumph of the former Soviet Union (which Ukraine was once a part of) over the Nazi regime.
Is it different now?
Nonetheless, time passes, hence the personal and public attitudes are changing. After researching more and more in the books, documentary movies, visiting various youth exchanges and international seminars I realized that the perception of the WWII is completely different in every country as the same stories are been told from several points of view. Thus, currently, Victory Day is celebrated differently in various countries and on diverse days. For instance, commemoration days on 8th of May takes place each year in France, UK, Poland, Czech Republic. On the contrary, most post-Soviet states, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, ex-Yugoslavian countries and also Israel are celebrating it on the 9th of May. That is because, in the official document for capitulation, it was mentioned that all hostilities had to stop 8 May 1945 at 23:01 (CET) and it was already the next day in the European part of the USSR.
In Ukraine, after establishing laws of decommunization in 2015, we have two events, both on 8th and 9th of May. The first one called Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, the following one Victory Day over Nazism in WWII. The changes also applied to the symbols - the red poppy seed is a new one, taken as a world common symbol of memorable days, old attributes (like Georgian ribbon) are banned.
How to behave??
Actually, it is doesn’t really matter when to “celebrate”, but more importantly how so that respect and not to forget those events. The sorrowful statistics about Ukraine in WWII reveals that around 10 million people were killed, half of this number - civil population (1,5 million Holocaust victims). Ukrainian soldiers were serving in various countries and forces: USSR (Red army), France, USA, Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Poland, UK. Overall, 28 000 villages and 700 cities were destroyed on the territory. Thus, in my opinion, launching fireworks and showing your military force during a parade as they are doing in Russia on Red Square is not a solution. If they are so proud of their soldiers (veterans), why they are not providing normal living conditions for these people, unlike investing money in spectacular shows.
To talk, to discuss, to look from the different points of view that is essential as well because almost nobody is saying that these veterans were also killing the people who appreciated their lives, had families and kids, who were waiting for them… Hence, it is time to commemorate and reflect on what had happened. Maybe it is easier for me to think and say like this, in comparison to people, who have never been abroad and face only one "truth".
Altogether, we just shouldn’t be judgmental or blaming others, but everyone should be conscious and keep in mind that anything like WWII should never repeat again! Obviously, many people support this view, but humanity still replicating the same mistakes. In particular, since the end of WWII, there was no year when any kind of war took place, including colonial or imperial conflicts, conflicts between states, civil conflicts with and without foreign intervention. Of course, there were and are not so massive and devastating. But what is interesting that the number of war victims declined while the number of conflicts increased.
Nowadays, there are many ongoing armed conflicts all around the globe (unfortunately for me, Ukraine is also on this list) that are resulting in thousands of deaths’ each year. This information should make us think about what happened has happened, consequently, we cannot change it. Unlike, we can influence our future in order to live in a peaceful world!