“This holiday expresses such important values as the Motherland, patriotism and social cohesion, and reflects our warmest and sincerest feelings for Russia, our responsibility for its present and future.” That is how Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed the essence of Russia Day, a national holiday to celebrate the country’s independence.
These values have become the cornerstone of Russian society today. They unite people, facilitate social alignment, help to weather storms, and to preserve one’s identity in the modern maelstrom of change.
Russia Day celebrates patriotism. Patriotic sentiment is inherent as people are inseparable from their background, their parentage, and their ancestry, as they are members of society and residents of a country. However, apart from love for homeland, patriotism embraces a set of values rooted in allegiance and fidelity. It is a sensible constraint on human egocentrism. True patriotism is deep lifelong devotion rather than an emotional outburst.
Native culture, as well as love and appreciation for the native land, allow creating something remarkable and important and leaving behind us footprints in the sands of time. Vasily Reshetnikov, Soviet pilot during World War II and Hero of the Soviet Union, was once asked about the ways he had been taught to hate the enemy. A fighter ace, he reacted instantaneously by saying “You needn’t hate anyone. You need to love your motherland.” Love for one’s native country does not need bragging or tolerate arrogance. This unwritten law sanctified by history is passed on from one generation to the next.
Sometimes the need to love the country of one’s fathers is called into question. Should people foreground their native culture in the increasingly globalizing world when social media allow chatting with someone from a different country without effort or difficulty? Undoubtedly, new technologies have modified our way of life. However, they have not provided us with an opportunity to build our history from scratch.
Russia Day celebrates our history as well. Common history is just as important as cities and regions where we live. Any mature society needs common dramatic and exciting episodes that people can remember and turn to for the sake of continuity as today and yesterday belong together. It is memory that largely humanizes people while it is collective memory that civilizes society. National identity is, among other things, shaped by major events preserved in our collective memory.
Not only have the explorers’ courage and resolve contributed to the unity of Russia’s vast territory, but we are also united by language, culture, and history. They create an indivisible community embracing people from different social layers, who cherish various local and national traditions. Millions of people reside in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, but acting together they achieve unity, the synthesis of which is impossible to eliminate.