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We Honor Our Veterans

This is an archive article from 05/06/14

On Monday, May 26, America will celebrate Memorial Day. That day, we will honor all American veterans who have died while in the military service. Many of us will visit cemeteries and memorials to give tribute to our national heroes. It is our duty to remember them, because while the memory is alive, they are alive too.

I thank God that he gave me a chance to visit Arlington National Cemetery during my trip to Washington, DC which occurred right around Memorial Day in 2012. I walked through the cemetery and looked at the images on the graves and the dates of birth and death on each of them. I noticed that there were many veterans of World War II that were buried there. I felt very grateful to the American veterans who along with the veterans from other countries have died for our peaceful future. They fought against fascism. And they won.

I remember thinking about my grandfather while looking at the graves. He also fought in World War II, was injured, had a concussion and saw his enemies in their faces. Although he survived that war, I know that it was very difficult for him even to talk about it and that for the rest of his life he had nightmares about it. I also know that he was proud that Germany failed and fascism was gone forever.

The Soviet Union hasn’t existed already for many years, but Russian people just as American people still honor veterans who fought and who got killed in that horrible war. We can’t allow ourselves to forget about them. We are humans. We are people. We remember.

In Russia, we honor our veterans of World War II, or, as we call it, Great Patriotic War, on May 9. That day, Nazi Germany capitulated to the Soviet Union. I remember having tears in my eyes every time I heard a song called Den’ Pobedy (Day of Victory) which is always performed on that day in my country.

It particularly has this line: “This is a holiday with tears in our eyes.” Which means that yes, we celebrate, but we can’t celebrate it without crying – crying about pain that the whole country had to go through and about those, who got killed and never returned home. They never saw their children’s eyes and never again had a chance to enjoy their lives. They died for us and our duty now is to prove that we deserve their sacrifice and their feat.

The fact that we still remember our veterans unites our countries as well as many other countries that honor their World War II veterans. American people are lucky to also celebrate Veterans Day on November 11 that honors not only those veterans who have died but also the service of all U.S. military veterans.

All grateful people in every country in the world consider it as their great duty and right to honor those who have died and who have fought for them during World War II. It would be unfair to our veterans not to remember their feat. We can’t even imagine if someone would take these holidays away from us. It would be wrong. Thank God, we live in free countries that let us honor our veterans. Because we know, that those who don’t remember their past don’t have a future.

Natalia Dagenhart

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