Skip to main content

Victory Day in Moscow: Honoring the Older Generation

I had good reason to miss the 2012 AGS meeting as the dates overlapped with Victory Day in Moscow. Victory Day is the Russian national holiday commemorating surrender of the German army on May 9, 1945. The country fought for 6 bloody years and lost millions of civilians and soldiers, and throughout Russia and much of the former Soviet Union there is an outpouring of patriotism. My goal for the trip was to photograph elderly WWII veterans who come to display their uniforms and medals. What I found was an amazing and touching public tradition of honoring the older generation.

Victory Day in 2012 was two days after Vladimir Putin's inauguration and there was a heavy military presence. In the days leading up to the event I watched as demonstrators were hustled away by police in riot gear and taken away in crowded vans. On Victory Day central Moscow was locked down and many streets and subway stations around Red Square were closed. I was able to get to Tverskaya Street, a wide boulevard where a parade of tanks and mobile missiles passed cheering spectators. Afterwards I went to the plaza in front of the Bolshoi Theater where a large gathering was taking place. 









The custom is to give flowers to the elderly veterans and older citizens of the generation that defeated the Nazis. Most looked proud, some looked lost, some cried, and some sang songs or recited poetry. There were lots of hugs and serious catch-up on gossip. They shared sausages and vodka, memories and tears. Some brought their wartime picture albums, proudly showing off photos of themselves in the prime of youth. Circles formed around accordion players and people danced, the music reflecting the wartime spirit from another time. Many veterans were in full dress uniform, their chests covered with medals. Parents ordered children to stand next to them for photos, and often the kids were stiff with fright. Some veterans told war stories while wildly gesticulating with their hands as crowds gathered around to listen.















Flower by flower, the elders received so many that they were impossible to carry. Some had friends or family to carry them, some had small carts, and some had nobody to help them. Late in the afternoon red flags fluttered as they packed their picnic baskets and flowers to head home. A serious looking woman wandered in circles while hugging a portrait of Stalin. In the distance the sun reflected off the arsenal tower of the Kremlin. As I turned back to my hotel I wondered how many veterans will be around to celebrate Victory Day next year to pass on the memories.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Watch a video of my day in Moscow:


Follow me on Instagram @jlevinemd, and see more art and photos on my blog.

Dr. Jeff Levine’s photography exhibit entitled “An International Celebration of Aging” will be at the University of Michigan Medical Center from June to August, 2015 as part of their Gifts of Art program.





Comments

Jerry said…
Lovely. As my mother liked to say, "Bring flowers while I'm alive to enjoy them."
Jerry said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Flowers for Veterans - wanderful ...
But do you realy think thay should be undefinitely proud of Stalin ???
Thet is something definitely wrong on this picutre.
JeffreyLevineMD said…
Thanks for the note and I understand the sentiment. My intention was not to judge anyone's politics but rather to demonstrate a remarkable public display of affection and respect for older folks. JML

Popular posts from this blog

Practical Advice for the End of Life: A Podcast with BJ Miller

This week we talk with BJ Miller, hospice and palliative care physician, public speaker, and now author with Shoshana Berger of the book "A Beginner's Guide to the End."

As we note on the podcast, BJ is about as close as we get to a celebrity in Hospice and Palliative Care.  His TED Talk "What Really Matters at the End of Life" has been viewed more than 9 million times.  As we discuss on the Podcast, this has changed BJ's life, and he spends most of his working time engaged in public speaking, being the public "face" of the hospice and palliative care movement.

The book he and Berger wrote is filled to the brim with practical advice.  I mean, nuts and bolts practical advice.  Things like:
How to clean out not only your emotional house but your physical house (turns out there are services for that!)Posting about your illness on social media (should you post to Facebook)What is the difference between a funeral home and mortuaryCan I afford to die?  …

Improving Advance Care Planning for Latinos with Cancer: A Podcast with Fischer and Fink

In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Stacy Fischer, MD and Regina Fink, RN, PhD, both from the University of Colorado, about a lay health navigator intervention to improve advance care planning with Latinos with advanced cancer.  The issue of lay health navigators raises several issues that we discuss, including:
What is a lay health navigator?What do they do?  How are they trained?What do lay health navigators offer that specialized palliative care doesn't?  Are they replacing us?What makes the health navigator intervention particularly appropriate for Latinos and rural individuals?  For advance care planning? Eric and I had fun singing in French (yes French, not Spanish, listen to the podcast to learn why).
Enjoy! -@AlexSmithMD




You can also find us onYoutube!



Listen to GeriPal Podcasts on:
iTunes Google Play MusicSoundcloudStitcher

Transcript

Eric: Welcome to the GeriPal podcast. This is Eric Widera.

Alex: This is Alex Smith.

Eric: And Alex, I'm really excited about toda…

The Dangers of Fleet Enemas

The dangers of oral sodium phosphate preparations are fairly well known in the medical community. In 2006 the FDA issued it’s first warning that patients taking oral sodium phosphate preparations are at risk for potential for acute kidney injury. Two years later, over-the-counter preparations of these drugs were voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturers.  Those agents still available by prescription were given black box warnings mainly due to acute phosphate nephropathy that can result in renal failure, especially in older adults. Despite all this talk of oral preparations, little was mentioned about a sodium phosphate preparation that is still available over-the-counter – the Fleet enema.

Why Oral Sodium Phosphate Preparations Are Dangerous 

Before we go into the risks of Fleet enemas, lets spend just a couple sentences on why oral sodium phosphate preparations carry significant risks. First, oral sodium phosphate preparations can cause significant fluid shifts within the colon …