Sometimes I ponder the rationale behind using fireworks in celebration of winning wars or other political and religious fighting but it is very much the done thing nowadays. Think 4th July – the American War of Independence – the war with England for independence, Bonfire Night – religious fighting, Victory Day in Russia – the end of WWII and they are all celebrated with fireworks.
In some respects it is challenging the explosive power of bombs and artillery and changing them into something truly beautiful.
Yesterday evening for example the skies over Moscow were alight with the sights, sounds and aromas of fireworks as the people of Russia celebrated Victory Day in the heart of Russia. The public holiday is in recognition of the eventual overthrowing of Hitler’s Nazi regime and the end of World War II.
Whilst the UK lost over 450 thousand lives which was around 10% of the population of the UK and its colonies which at the time stood at just over 47 million, the Soviet Union lost a staggering 43.3 million lives, 27 million of which were serving in the armed forces.
In the years between the signing of the treaty and today, the celebration of Victory Day has come and gone a few times. However, when the enigmatic Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999, he wanted to promote celebration and pride of the efforts of the people who lost their lives fighting for freedom. His belief being along the same lines as our own ‘lest they be forgotten’ ethos but instead of the usual sombre military marches and laying of wreaths, they should be able to accommodate both acceptance that the war was hard-fought but ultimately good won out.
This year saw the usual military parade followed by a huge fireworks display. The fireworks were being fired from 14 different locations across the city and for 15 minutes all eyes were trained to the clear skies as they were filled with breathtaking colour explosions incorporating any number of different effects.
Mr Putin’s address to the gathered Russian Military forces and dignitaries was really touching:
“We will do everything, everything in order that no-one ever dare unleash war again. They will not threaten our children, our homes, our land. We will do everything to enforce safety in Russia. Glory to this nation of victors. Happy Victory Day. Glory to Russia’
It is clear that at least while ever Mr Putin remains at the helm, we can expect celebrations, parades and of course beautiful fireworks in recognition of the loves and lives lost in the name of war.