Friday, May 28, 2010

Battle of the Dnieper (1943) Statue

~~Photo Series: Victory Day, May 9th, 2010, Kiev~~

Ah, monuments, Soviet Style. Especially if memorializing World War II. They are just so much bigger than life! Big! Bold! Heroic!

The Battle of the Dnieper Statue is located at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev. It commemorates a pivotal battle that liberated Kiev from Nazi Germany. This is just one of the, well, monumental monuments found on the grounds.

Battle of the Dnieper (1943) Statue

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial to the Unknown Soldier

~~Photo Series: Victory Day, May 9th, 2010, Kiev~~

The Memorial to the Unknown Soldier at Park Slavy (Glory), Kiev, is the central focus of attention for Victory Day. It is here where the most flowers are left, in stacks over 4 ft, 1.5m high. This high point also has a commanding view of the Dnieper River and the Left Bank of the city.

This park has long been dedicated to the memory of those who fought in World War II, the Great Patriotic War. However, a recently departed administration had used a part of the park for a monument unrelated to the war, which may be part of the reason for a new war monument in the park this year. More on that in a future posting.

I walked around a good part of the day with my Sigma 10-20 mm lens. This certainly was not the obvious choice of lens, but I think it worked out well. This picture would not have been possible with a less wide lens. The problem with this lens is that in order to get good people portraits, you either need to get real close, or you need to take the picture from a discrete distance and crop like mad later.

Memorial to the Unknown Soldier

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scene of the Day

~~Photo Series: Victory Day, May 9th, 2010, Kiev~~

A scene similar to this was repeated thousands of times May 9th. A woman, a man, a teenager, a child, would approach a veteran, wish them a good holiday, say thank you, and give them flowers.

As an American living in Kiev, when I first encountered this, is seemed a bit strange, to say the least. But there is nothing the least bit forced or phony about this. While those who fought that terrible war are passing on, the memories of WWII have not been allowed to die here.

Now, this veteran is obviously not of WWII. Any veteran who was 20 years old when the war ended would now be 85. But that does not matter. Peace has been maintained, and all veterans have played a role.

Oh, and the photographer. There were thousands of scenes captured Sunday just like this one.

Scene of the Day

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Female Veteran, 2010

~~Photo Series: Victory Day, May 9th, 2010, Kiev~~

May 9th, 2010 was the celebration of Victory Day, the 65th anniversary of World War 2 in many of the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Within five minutes of my arrival, I saw this veteran. I recognized her immediately as someone I had photographed on this same day, two years ago. See photo here...

Female Veteran 2008 @ Flickr

It's always a pleasant surprise to see some of the World War II veterans again. There were a few that I remember from two years ago that I saw again this year. Others I did not see. Sadly, time stops for no one, not even the heroic.

It is a tradition that whenever you see any veteran on this day, but especially those from the Great Patriotic War (what WWII is called over here), that you stop, say a kind word, say "thank you", and give them a flower. This lady had so many flowers that she continually was dropping some. Three times I picked up some flowers that fell and put it back in her hands.

Ten minutes later, I saw her again at the Memorial to the Unknown soldiers of the war. Here she placed her entire collection of flowers, 100 or more, along with the tens of thousands of other flowers already left in memory. No doubt, ten minutes later, she was already holding another 100 flowers.

Female Veteran, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010