The Russian national anthem, and my grandfather’s rubles

Over the past two days, I’ve received emails from several readers who live in Russia. They were having trouble accessing the site. (I had some unintentional geoblocking going on; but that’s fixed now.) This got me thinking about all things Russian.

My grandfather’s rubles

My grandfather spent two years in the USSR during World War II, what the Russians call, “the Great Patriotic War”. He was a sailor in the US Navy, stationed at Arkhangelsk (Archangel). (The USSR and the USA were allies in WWII.)

At that time, Stalin was in charge, and Russia was fighting an invader inside its borders. Things were unpleasant, to say the least.

My grandfather brought back some rubles. I still have them.

From the USSR, circa 1943

I’m a big fan of foreign language learning, and the mastery of the Russian language is still on my to-do list. Maybe I’ll get serious about that in 2021. We’ll see.

The Russian national anthem

I found the above video interesting. With no disrespect to the “Star Spangled Banner”, or “God Save the Queen”, I’ve always liked the musical score of the Russian national anthem.

The instrumental portion is taken directly from the Soviet national anthem. After the end of the USSR, the anthem was rewritten to take out specifically communist references like “oh party of Lenin,” etc.

In this video, Russians spontaneously break out in an a cappella singing of their anthem.

Although Russia has been through significant turmoils in recent years, there is a real sense of patriotism there—including among the younger generations. Russians are not taught to disdain their own culture, as has been the case here throughout most of my lifetime.

I’m not naive about geopolitical realities. I grew up during the Cold War, fearing the Soviet Union. Russia is one of the great powers. The Russians do not always share our interests, and we will not always see eye-to-eye with them. But this is a country that more Americans should learn more about.