70 years later, we still mourn millions of lives that were taken abruptly during the darkest times of our history. But we also celebrate our heroes, the veterans, who risked their lives for our future.
Both of my grandfathers of blessed memory joined the Red Army being unsure if they would ever return from the battlefield.
As a young man in his early twenties, my paternal grandfather lost his leg while fighting for his relatives’ peace. He didn’t know that half of his family would be gone by the time the war would end… My maternal grandfather was a lieutenant-colonel and paratrooper, involved in liberating Auschwitz.
When I was a little girl and my grandparents were still alive, I rarely heard them talk about their war experiences.
But on the 9th May, they always took out their war medals (and there were many to choose from!), put those up and left to the Victory Day Parade in Moscow.
They spent the day with other veterans, reminiscing about the past and their relatives, friends and loved ones who perished…
My paternal grandfather, Avigdor ben Pesach, once asked me, “Do you know how I survived the war?”
It seemed like he looked through me for a second and then he said:
“The war just started… I was a young boy. A shlemazl. One night, I slept in a mud hut with a bunch of other soldiers. Suddenly, in a dream, I saw a vision of my late grandfather. He told me to leave the hut that very minute. I dismissed the dream and continued sleeping.
The vision repeated 3 times. He was very firm, my grandfather, you know… So I finally stood up and went outside. It was cold and uncomfortable there…
And would you believe it? Seconds later, a rocket hit the mud hut, murdering everyone inside except for me.
I was lucky to survive the war with a minor defect — simply losing a leg in a battle. But those are nuances…
And the lesson of the story is… Yes, you can’t just leave your zeide without a lesson. So here it is,
the chain of generations unites us not only with our kids and parents but with our relatives who have left to the higher world. No matter how much time passes. Remember that.”
Lest we forget the courageous people who sacrificed their lives to give us the opportunity to live under peaceful skies.
Wishing all the veterans and survivors to live long, happy and healthy lives and continue to see much nachas from their families!