Monday, September 10, 2012

Lonely but Proud

Currently I am reading a book called War of the Rats.   It is about the Russian snipers in the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.  
I also have an audio version of the book which I listen to on my MP3 while I do yard work outside.   I listen to a chapter on the MP3 and then read the same chapter in the book later.   This seems to make the reading of the book easier by keeping the characters straight and in general just makes for more enjoyable reading.   One of the main characters in the book is a real-life Russian sniper by the name of Vasily Zaitsev (there are various spellings of his name).  
He was one of the top Russian snipers during World War II.  He has already earned two medals in the picture above.
He was awarded numerous other medals through the course of the war and he became a hero in Russia.  
There is a ton of information on this individual on the internet and he is really an interesting person to read about.   There is too much information to include here but it is well worth reading about him on the internet. 
I think that the book is called War of the Rats because the snipers had to crawl around like rats in the rubble of the bombed-out buildings that had once stood in Stalingrad.
So many Russian soldiers made such heroic sacrifices during the war to repel their enemy, the Germans.   Heroes like Vasily Zaitsev can  be easily forgotten to history.   I had never heard of him until I started reading about the battle of Stalingrad.   So where am I going with this blog?   What is it's purpose?   It is that we should not forget the sacrifices that heroes have made.   I came across a picture on the internet that I could read a lot into.   The picture was titled "Lonely but Proud".
What a great picture this is.   What do you see in the picture?   Can you piece together a story from what you see?   What I see in the picture is an old man who is, like the title says, "lonely but proud".    Obviously from all of the medals on his jacket (11 in all) he must have been a great hero of the Soviet Union.   He did his duty as a soldier and did it quite well as all those medals attest to.   How proud he must have been each time he received one.   What a smile he must have had.   But now he is old and frail.   He looks lonely and so his wife of many years probably passed away leaving him alone.   He lives in a simple peasant style house with a thatch roof.   However, it is probably warm and comfy on those cold winter nights.   I see the chimney on the roof for his fireplace.   His children have probably moved on to the city leaving him alone.   It probably wasn't too bad when his wife was alive but now that she is gone, he is probably experiencing a terrible loneliness.   Such sadness in his face.    But he has his medals and memories of his past glories to comfort him.   Thank goodness as we age our long-term memory increases and we are able to retreat into those past memories that we like so well and relive them again. This story is not unique to this individual but is played out over and over again as each couple age and grow into their twilight years.   On Memorial Day and Veterans Day it is good to give recognition of the heroic sacrifices made by so many soldiers of all nations during times of war.
Here is a picture of another Russian hero.   Just look at all of the ribbons on his jacket, plus the breast badge.   Each ribbon represents a medal.   Please post in the comments what you see in the photo and in the expressions and manner of the old Russian hero.  What do you think that he is thinking about at this moment?   A picture can say so much.   I hope that I haven't depressed too many of the readers of this blog with sadness.   My aim is to take a minute to reflect on history and heroes.   Cheer up and have a chocolate milk shake and I guarantee that you will feel better afterwards.
How can you resist such an epicurean delight.   I recently had one of these for my birthday at Ghirardelli's chocolate shop in Downtown Disney, Orlando.   It was better than it looks and I can say that after drinking a chocolate milkshake all of your troubles will fade away and then disappear.   Go ahead and splurge and have fun.     Lew

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