Russia marks Heroes’ Day with nod to Tsarist era

Russia marks Heroes’ Day with nod to Tsarist era
Heroes’ Day sees Russians honor people awarded that title throughout history – Heroes of the Russian Federation and Soviet Union, and those decorated with the Order of St George, the top award of the Russian Empire.

The latest honorary title – Hero of Russian Federation – was instituted in 1992, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the abolition of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Since then, over 1,000 people have been awarded the title, most military servicemen, though not exclusively.

Tu-154 aircraft force landing on Izhma airdrome (Komi).(RIA Novosti)

One example is Andrey Lamanov, an airline pilot who in 2010 managed to land his dysfunctional jet on an abandoned runway in northern Russia that had been maintained by a local resident simply out of his sense of duty. The plane rolled off the runway and into fields, but no one of the 72 people on board was injured in the accident.

Lamanov was named a Hero of Russia title and got a Gold Star medal for his feat. The rest of the crew were awarded Orders of Courage. Channel One television reports that despite pleas from his relatives, Lamanov refused to end his aviation career and continues to fly the very same plane he crash landed to this day.

 From right: Capitain of aircraft Andrei Lamanov, who received the title Hero of Russia, gives a model of the aircraft to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the ceremony presenting state awards to nine members of the crew of Tu-154 that had to make emergency landing in taiga near Izhma.(RIA Novosti / Vladimir Rodionov)

The Defense Ministry announced solemn events all over the country. Servicemen met with decorated veterans and wreaths were laid to monuments to soldiers who died in various wars that Russian has fought throughout its history.

The holiday itself was instituted in 2007 and its name– the Day of Heroes of Fatherland – was chosen because it is dedicated to everyone who received the highest awards from the Russian authorities. The date chosen for the holiday is that on which the Russian Empire honored those decorated with the order of St. George.

The order was instituted in 1769 by Empress Catherine the Great, and many Russian military men - generals, officers and simple soldiers - received it for personal valor demonstrated in combat. The order was abolished after the October Revolution of 1917, along with other Tsarist decorations, but in 2000 the Russian President returned it, and since then 14 people have received the award.

The ribbon of St George – burnt-orange and black - was transformed into the symbol of guards units in the soviet military and in mid-2000s Russian people re-adopted it as the symbol of military glory and unity of the people of the Russian Federation.