Armenia is a small republic in Western Asia. It borders Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran and its capital city is Yerevan which is home to around 1.1 million people. It has one of the longest and richest histories of any country because it is situated on the Great Silk Road and it was also one of the first Christian civilizations. Throughout history Armenia has been part of Byzantine, Turkish, Persian and Mongol empires. Mount Ararat is seen as a national symbol of Armenia, with its image being on the national emblem, however due to border shifts during World War I, the mountain now belongs to Turkey.
Victory and Peace Day is celebrated in Armenia on the 9th of May every year. This is a day set aside each year to celebrate victory over Nazi forces on the 8th of May 1945 and the end of the Second World War in Europe. During World War II over 500,000 Armenian troops served as part of the Soviet Union’s army and around half of them perished on the battlefield. Armenians also served in partisan groups in other countries like France and the United States of America. The Soviet Red Army participated in the Eastern Front of the conflict in what is known as the Great Patriotic War.
Although the rest of Europe celebrates the end of the Second World War on May 8th, due to the time differences between Moscow and the rest of Europe it was already May 9th when the Soviet armies received news of Germany’s surrender. For this reason countries who were involved in the Soviet Red Army tend to celebrate the end of the war on 9 May.
9 May also marks the anniversary of the liberation of Shushi in 1992, when Azeris and Armenians fought for control of Karabakh – a small autonomous region on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan – after the fall of the Soviet Union. On 9 May 1992 Armenia succeeded and gained control of the region
Many Armenians have ancestors who died in the conflicts of World War II as they fought for the Soviet Red Army against the Nazis, so Armenians remember their fallen on this day. Hundreds of veterans in their medals and uniform march to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Yerevan’s Victory Park. Here they pay their respects before laying flowers at the eternal flame which is also in Victory Park.
In 2014 the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, had this to say about the holiday:
“On May 9 of 1992, we were once again in the trenches of justice and freedom fighting against national discrimination and genocide… [ ] Today, we bow with gratitude to the memory of all the brave fighters who paid for peace by their own lives. Long live the peace – the mother of all blessings of the world! Glory to our heroes!”