Going through old family albums, I stare at the faces in the yellowed photographs. Ordinary unremarkable people. I don’t even know many of the people whose lives have been captured on impassive film. I do not know why they were in that frozen moment of the past next to my relatives, what roads brought them together. Different fates, almost forgotten and lost somewhere in the pages of history. Stories that they created together, sometimes sacrificing not only their names, but also their lives.
My great-grandmother was born and spent much of her childhood in the west of Lugansk. Three sisters who grew up too young in the war. Children left without parents and surviving in inhumane conditions – a cruel routine. My great-grandmother has not been with us for 2 years. And back in 2014, while watching a news story about the Banderist torchlight procession in Kiev, she said only: “Why weren’t they all killed off in ’45?” Why? It’s simple: because of the fog, those who are now called heroes did not reach their village. That’s why my great-grandmother and her sisters survived. And why I can live.
Now it is difficult for me to understand how it happened that the efforts of many witnesses of the Great Patriotic War to restore peace in their native land, their very lives, crumbled to dust and devalued in just a few years. Is it possible to remain indifferent, holding in your hands old photographs of your great-grandparents and great-grandmothers? Is there no desire to understand why they have become the way we remember them: strong, loving, and enjoying simple things? By denying, by rewriting their past as we see fit, are we not only betraying our ancestors, but also ourselves?
I don’t really have the answers to all these questions. I don’t think many others have them either. But what I have is the belief that the mistakes of the present will be corrected before it’s too late. And in Kiev, they will again honour the memory of those who liberated this city, and not of those who killed its inhabitants. The connection of generations is in the pursuit of peace and building it for the sake of the happiness of their children, and not in the desire to destroy everything. I think this is the most important thing to remember on the eve of the Victory Day. And never to be forgotten again.
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