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14 February 2019
Why Should We Remember Wars?

Military conflicts of the 20th century broke out continuously in many parts of the globe. There were only short periods of time that the world was free of war. The total number of deaths caused by war during the 20th century is estimated at 187 million and is probably higher. Should we commemorate these turbulent years? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Without memory there is no future.

13 February, the National Library of the Komi Republic welcomed a meeting of the war veterans named A son of Russia, I was a soldier once. The meeting  was dedicated to 30 years since the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan on 15 February 1989. The large conference room was full of young people, students of Syktyvkar colleges, and all those who came to pay respect to the veterans and listen to the true stories about their military service.

The nine-year Soviet-Afghan war is a sore period in the country's history. In addition to physical consequences - more than 15,000 fatalities, and many more injured and crippled - the war produced long-lasting psychological effects rippling across children's and adults' lives. 

Alexander Rassokhin and Dmitry Karpov were enrolled in the army at 18 and had their share of the conflict which they now remember as the worst and the best time in their lives. Learning to value comradeship, valour, and commitment to the cause were the most important lessons they received. Sergey Krasnoukhin who served in the army during the Russian-Chechen conflict had felt the impact of the war on his entire life. The youngest veteran, Dmitry Chemalin, talked about the most recent events - the military conflict in Syria involving the NATO countries and Russia. All the veterans spoke about the continuity in generations of soldiers and their common code of behaviour. 

Among the guests there were also family members of the soldiers who perished in the Soviet-Afghan war. One of them, Galina Kravchenko, the mother of Gennadiy Kravchenko who was killed in battle, stated the obvious, but often forgotten truth: patriotism and love of homeland can not be artificially implanted by orders or laws. One needs to know the history of one's country and maintain the feeling of ownership and connection. The soldiers were not directly responsible for the political decisions of their government, but they did their duty with honour protecting their country's interests in a foreign land. 

The veterans addressed the young audience stressing that nothing in the world is as important as peace, and they wished them never to experience horrors of war.

Soviet-Afghan war veteran Vladimir Tomov performed war ballads and songs that gave a strong emotional touch to the meeting.

We would like to thank all the participants for being with us on that important occasion and sharing their personal stories with the audience. 

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