NEW YORK, May 5. /TASS/. About 6,000 people from more than 20 US cities are expected to take part in the Immortal Regiment public action in the coming days.
The most populous procession will be held on Manhattan on Saturday, Igor Kochan, the president of the Russian Youth of America society and the coordinator of the action told TASS.
"The Immortal Regiment processions will be held in different American cities on different days, since May 9 [Victory Day in Russia and in most parts of the former Soviet Union - TASS] isn’t a day off here," Kochan said. "But the biggest processions are expected on May 5 and May 6."
The list of the cities where the Immortal Regiment will be held includes some places where the action has been held previously, too. They are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, and Miami. The new places are Kansas City, Birmingham, Houston, Phoenix, and Vancouver in Canada.
"We expect the most populous action this year since the Immortal Regiment first appeared on American soil," Kochan said. "We hope some 6,000 people will come."
He recalled that people from neighboring areas would come to big cities to join the processions. For instance, residents of Oregon, Alaska, and Vancouver would come to Seattle.
"We expect about 2,000 people in New York - descendants from the former USSR, Americans and, quite naturally, the veterans of World War II. It will begin on the bank of the Hudson and will end by the monument to the soldiers fallen during WW II that is located in Battery Park, in the southern part of Manhattan in front of Liberty Statue."
"Participants in the procession will lay flowers at the monument, present flowers to the veterans and release hundreds of white hot air balloons into the sky to the sounds of the famous Russian song ‘Cranes’," Kochan said.
On May 5, the processions will also be held in Washington, Boston, Denver, and Phoenix.
"WW II veterans will join the Immortal Regiment rallies in all large cities in the US," Kochan said. "The veterans who fought on the Soviet front of the war live in each big American city and they really wish to join the ranks with other at the Immortal Regiment action although all of them are quite advanced in age."
"Some of them will be on wheelchairs and others, on special vehicles," he said. "In New York, the veterans will join the procession at the last stage but anyway they will cover the last several hundred meters together with the rest of the participants. And they, too, will bring the portraits of their fellow soldiers, the ones who didn’t live through to today."
"The Americans showing an increasing interest in the Immortal Regiment from one year to another, although we don’t engage in any loud advertising," Kochan said. "We talk to our colleagues in the offices and our children speak to their American schoolmates about what the Immortal Regiment is and Americans join us gladly."
"The Americans agree with us it’s important to remember the price that the world paid of the victory," he said. "Like the Russian ‘brother-soldiers’, the Americans will also bring portraits of their relatives who are WW II veterans. Also, members of the Chinese community have shown interests towards the Immortal Regiment for the first time."
Associations of Russian-speaking Americans organize the processions in most cities in the US.
"In some cases, it’s unindifferent people who take on the role of coordinators," Kochan said. "They make arrangements with the authorities and help others make portraits of relatives and friends."
"The Immortal Regiment is turning to an increasingly grassroots action, and not only in terms of the numbers of participants," he said. "People understand the definite financial problems, which the organizational matters involve, and they make personal contributions to enable the Immortal Regiment rallies in their cities."
"The American authorities don’t put up any obstacles to us," Kochan said. "We can even see an opposite tendency, namely, that the local authorities often take steps contravening the official position of the federal government."
"While we can see the deterioration of US-Russian relations at the official level, the local politicians are seeking to tap ways of communications and rapprochement with the Russian-speaking communities, all the more so that the Immortal Regiment isn’t a Russian action," he said. "It’s a tribute to the Russians, Americans and representatives of other peoples who fought with Nazism and emerged victorious from that fighting."
The first Immortal Regiment rallies took place in the US in 2015 at the initiative of the Russian Youth of America society. Processions were held in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta then and they brought together several hundred participants.
Steering the Immortal Regiment rallies at present is the Coordination Committee of the Associations of Russian Compatriots.