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Defining Honor and Respect - Moscow May 9, 2015

On May 9th, 2015, a victory for all humanity will be celebrated in Moscow. The world has been invited to pay one great tribute to the last living World War II’s heroes. Some in the world would dishonor us all. We cannot allow this. 

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Not so many years ago a close friend here in Germany said something to my wife, something I will never forget. We were having a cookout, the customary few beers and laughs, you know. At length, the discussion turned to America, since I am the only one hereabouts among German, Dutch, Romanian, Georgian, Albanian, Greek, and an otherwise multi-lingual set in our tiny German village. “He was a soldier, wasn’t he?” This was my friend’s whispered question to my wife. Her reply, the smile behind it, it somehow framed for me a thing I’d almost failed to recall. “No, he is a soldier as before, fighting for peace.” So, one old soldier to another, I’ve a story you need to read.

The Color of Valor

Of the “stars and stripes” and “three cheers for the red-white-and-blue," it seems everyone in Europe is at some time, at least, interested. Europe, you see, it is all about old wars and war cemeteries, new buildings standing where ruined ones once were. So when I tell stories from my Dad, remembering takes of the Pacific war, of our desperate fight with Imperial Japan, my fellows here often identify. Their grandfathers and fathers, you see, took part in the same global war, or either in some conflict since then: Vietnam, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan or so many others. We often share ideals, bits and pieces of the valor and the shame that is human conflict. This is something we all have in common, all the humanity on this planet is cemented both by peace and by war. This is why I chose to remain a soldier for peace, instead of war, but that is another story. I’m writing this to take aim at a scandalous injustice, at an evil foe so scurrilous it is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler and the scourge that was Nazism.

<figcaption>The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial, Moscow Kremlin</figcaption>
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial, Moscow Kremlin

Without recapping just how our world reverted to Cold War doctrine, it’s unequivocally true western leadership declared war on Russia at a point just before Ukraine imploded. US Senators and State Department officials appearing in Kiev, the Brussels parliamentarians’ instantaneous stamp of approval on a new regime there, all this and much, much more indemnify my contention. However compelling evidence to this is, Barack Obama’s determined propaganda machine has crossed the line with the boycott of Russia’s May 9th victory celebrations. I’ve highlighted this at Russia Today, and thousands agreed with that assessment of western diplomats. This is not about me, nor is it about Crimea, Ukraine, or even Russian natural gas; the west’s boycott is about dishonor, and how that can stain the American soul.

When I woke up this morning, the first Facebook message on my Sony Experia was the Russian video you see above. Russia Insider's editor, Charles Bausman, had had under-titled. Before I go on, I share it with you now to set your frame of mind right.

The Order of Sating George
The Order of Sating George beret pin from Russian Guards

The imagery in the video is profound no matter what country you come from, no matter which side your forebears fought on during World War II, or in any war. For those of you in America or the UK, the significance of that ribbon you see is iconic. It's the Ribbon of Saint George, a symbol of heroism akin to our own Congressional Medal of Honor, and the highest military award of not only the Russian Federation, but of Imperial Russia in former times. To be honest, it is something to be revered and respected by anyone who has ever taken up arms for their country. I know my comrades in the United States will easily identify with this. Moving on to the text you read during the clip, something gripping, steely, and momentous for any of us leaps out at those who would forget: “Will we ourselves then be worthy of remembrance?”

We Are All Touched

Now I turn to my own homeland and remembrances of comrades, like the hero of this Delta Airlines flight home. Travel insider Johnny Jet relates a fateful trip aboard Flight 2255, and the soldiers of US honor guard taking home the remains of a fallen comrade. I’ll let you read that account yourself, but it is about honor, the debt paid to heroism and valor, and all the things my country stands for. Next I read a story by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer (image below), a US Marine who risked almost certain death to save not only his US and Afghan comrades, but the bodies of fallen US Marines. I know Meyer will identify with this May 9th boycott debacle, for he, too, has been maligned in the mainstream media for his criticisms against military contractors.

Medal of Honor recipient former Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer (CC)
Medal of Honor recipient former Marine Corps Sgt. Dakota Meyer (CC)

The trail of heroes from Vladivostok to Bangor, Maine, or any other town you can name, is actually continuous, congruent, and singular in that the path has wrapped many times around our planet. My Russia or Japanese or Belgian or Argentinean friends will shed a tear, I know, at hearing of a little boy’s letter to his fallen father, as relayed by Zoe Mintz on the Huffington Post here. Little MacAidan Gallegos was just five years old when his father was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Here is a tiny boy’s letter to a dad he will never see again:

"Dear Dad, I have some questions. What is it like in a tank? What is like to be a scout? How old are you now? How old were you when you died? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite hobby? What is your favorite activity? What is it like in heaven? Have you seen what I have accomplished? From, your son."

The letter was to a soldier of uncommon valor, Army Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos, who was deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. The man was adorned with medals, including three purple hearts for being wounded in combat, and a Bronze Star for valor.  The Army answered a Facebook call from young Gallegos (below), to fly this letter as high as an F22 fighter could fly, to try and deliver his heartfelt sentiment. For those of you who did not shed a tear conjuring that imagery, stop reading here, for honor and sacrifice is an impossible idea for you. 

MacAidan Gallegos, 5, receives a flag from Brigadier General Sean MacFarland as Amanda Doyle, MacAidan's mother, watches during the funeral services for Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson, Ariz. Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. AP Photo/Ari
MacAidan Gallegos, 5, receives a flag from Brigadier General Sean MacFarland as Amanda Doyle, MacAidan's mother, watches during the funeral services for Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson, Ariz. Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. AP Photo/Ari

Obviously, I could go on and on. If you visit Military Times, the 6,820 Americans who’ve died fighting in America’s most recent conflicts abroad are listed. Wreaths Across America is another momentous effort to pay tribute to the brave of my own country, and it’s here my message today can pierce the character of any reader not already stricken in disbelief at Washington’s policies of late. The politicians there have forgotten, or never knew, that heroism and valor is not American, it is human. And now the question...

What if you were Russian?

What if tens of millions of your people died so that Americans could land on Normandy? So that hundreds of thousands or even millions of our own could be spared? Then think, "what if you invited comrades to pay tribute, and an American president spit in your face?"

One million civilians perished in the German siege of Leningrad alone (CC)
One million civilians perished in the German siege of Leningrad alone (CC)

Luckily, magically, almost supernaturally, the Russian people still do not hate Americans. Miraculously, Barack Obama and a slew of “yes men” in the US State Department have somehow failed to utterly alienate former allies. Moscow and Russia are still hopeful that leaders will come forward, just as the Czech Republic’s President Zeman has. Whether or not the NATO hold on Europe remains steadfast or not, the very least any of us can do is show respect and honor those who saved countless lives. You don’t have to agree with my politics, to adhere to “the code” and represent America accordingly. This is my only point in writing this piece. It’s an appeal to men and women of honor, to remember what you’ve been taught your whole life.

 

Soviet children during a German air raid in the first days of the war, June 1941, by RIA Novosti archive
Soviet children during a German air raid in the first days of the war, June 1941, by RIA Novosti archive

Clearly, there are many in the world who do not remember their upbringing. As for the United States of America, I am waiting for someone to stand in our president’s stead, for those who understand valor at all. The UK’s David Cameron, Germany’s Merkel, and, of course, Obama, continue with their round of obstinate boycotts of a country that has invaded no one, attacked no one, since before the Crimea situation existed. For the confused reader, study the Sochi Olympics boycotts, only this time our leadership is cutting deeper. We’d do well to take heed.

And Poland would forget - Mass grave of Soviet POWs, killed by Germans in prisoner-of-war camp in Dęblin, German-occupied Poland
And Poland would forget - Mass grave of Soviet POWs, killed by Germans in prisoner-of-war camp in Dęblin, German-occupied Poland

 


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