One cannot sit back and not look at Russia with awe and inspiration. What the Russian people have gone through, even in the last 100 years is mind boggling.
Russia is a country whose existence in measured by the word millennium – not centuries. And yet, it is still a very young country in terms of the world political scene. That is to be expected when Russia has had three major changes in government rule in less time than most countries have even changed.
When I was in Russia, I was simply amazed at the heritage that exists in a country that is reinventing itself as a major factor in the world politics. I stood in the center of Red Square and I realized the historical aspect of it all.
Russia is struggling with modernizing while trying to stay Russian. In my own country, we used to have localized flavors of cultural background and distinctive feel to each town. That is disappearing fast. I can go to New York and find the same stores as I have in my home town. I can go to Denver and see the same style buildings and the same pulse. But, when I was in Russia, I had to go to another town, and the flavor was unique to that town. It was completely different than Moscow.
Russia was the first country to have put a satellite into outer space. That was a major accomplishment since only a few years prior, Hitler had laid complete waste a greater portion of Russia. Russia was also trying to rebuild. Unfortunately, Russia’s leadership at the time was the last in the world to realize the full implications of Sputnik and what it would lead to.
Even as a child, I was fascinated with Russia. I really didn’t buy into all the hate filled rhetoric we were fed in school – maybe I see a larger picture.. When the movie Doctor Zhivago came out – I had to go see it. While it was a love story, it did present the causes of the October Revolution. I can’t judge the October revolution because America did the same thing in the 18th century.
One thing that I, as an American, admire most about Russia is the fact that Russian leadership took a fearless and moral look at themselves, the form of government they had, and to stand up and say “This is not working – we must do something different”. Former leader M. Gorbachev, was a man of in creditable insight and bravery – he was liked in the US, from the day he took office, there was something about him that was different than all the other leaders Russia had ever had. Next, was former president Boris Yeltsin – another likeable teddy bear of a man, a man who wanted better for Russia.
Now, Russia has President Putin – who seems like the right man for the job. He is trying to bring law and order from the chaos generated during the transition to parliamentary procedure. President Putin is a man who deserves respect and support.
Russia has had its tragedies too – the Kursk being the last one. The loss and pain was felt here in the US also. The US offer of help was a genuine one, especially since it came from our Navy. Submariners are a special brotherhood of men, despite the differences in countries or political points of view. They are submariners.