U.S. soldiers march through Red Square in Moscow.
1st Battalion Royal Welsh Guards marching through Red Square, Moscow.
U.S. troops marched through Red Square for the first time in a Victory Day parade on Sunday as Russia celebrated the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. It was a scene cut from Russia's Cold War nightmares: 71 Americans in dark blue dress uniforms carried the U.S. flag over the cobblestones, past the mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin and the towers of the Kremlin wall to salute Russian leaders.
French, British and Polish soldiers also took part in the parade in a tribute to the role the Allies played in what Russia called the Great Patriotic War. Under clear skies, the reviewing stands were packed with Russian officials, foreign dignitaries and hundreds of aging war veterans.
"In 1945, not only a military but also a great moral victory was achieved, a common victory," President Dmitry Medvedev told the crowd. Soldiers of various countries marching Sunday in a single formation "is evidence of our common readiness to defend peace, not to allow the revision of the outcomes of war and new tragedies."
Despite the mutterings, the visiting U.S. soldiers were feted by the government. Last week, they were presented with medals during a ceremony at the Military University of the Russian Defense Ministry. "It is a great honor for me to take part in the parade and represent America," said Pfc. Michael Hagen, 20, from Atlanta, whose grandfather fought in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy. "He would have been very, very proud of me," Hagen said. "Taking part in this parade symbolizes a lot for me as it is a show of great respect for my grandfather and other veterans."
Relations between Russia and the United States have been steadily warming after reaching a low under the George W. Bush administration. The two countries have toned down criticism of each another and have been working together to cut their respective nuclear stockpiles.In his speech Sunday, Medvedev strove to create an atmosphere of cooperation. "Only together can we counteract modern threats," he said. "Only based on the principles of good-neighborliness can we resolve issues of global security so that ideals of justice and of the good can triumph in the whole world."
If any of you grew up with the fall-out shelter school drills, or remember the Cold War and the several close calls with nuclear war, this must have been an eye-popper of an event to witness. When I went to grade school at my local parish, our religious study teacher said it was more likely Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would heal their schism than it was likely to ever see West Berlin and East Berlin united. By comparison, that seems pale: troops from France, the United Kingdom, Poland, France and other Allies marching with Russians in Red Square. And I think that's fantastic news, in what's been a rather dreary news month.
Very cool POV video taken today from jets and tanks.