Under St. George’s Protection

The St.George Order and St.George Order (1st degree) star

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On December 9, Russia marks Heroes of the Fatherland Day. This holiday has a long history. Before 1917 on that very day the chevaliers of the Order of St. George were honored. The Order of St. George was Imperial Russia's highest solely military order.

The Order of St. George the Victorious was established in 1769 by Catherine the Great and had remained Russia’s highest military award until 1917. The order had four degrees and only four recipients were awarded. The first of them was Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, a renowned Russian field commander who managed to drive away Napoleon’s troops.

The motto of the order is "For Service and Bravery". In the description of Order’s status it was stressed that neither noble origin, nor previous achievements can be the grounds for awarding this order. Only a commander who “personally led the troops and won an overwhelming victory over superior forces of the enemy has the right to receive the order”.

In February 1807, the St George Cross was introduced alongside the Order. The Silver Cross on St. George’s ribbon was granted to soldiers who distinguished themselves on the battlefield.

After the October Revolution of 1917, which destroyed the Russian monarchy, the St. George Order had not been granted until 2000, when it was revived by presidential decree. The St. George ribbon also returned and its yellow and black colors became the symbol of military courage and the Glory of Russia.

For five years already on the eve of May 9, the Day of Victory over Nazi Germany, yellow and black ribbons appear in the streets of Russian cities. You can see them on billboards, ladies handbags, school rucksacks and baby-buggies…

“I have tied a St. George ribbon to the antenna of my car and I saw dozens of cars with such ribbons the same day”, one of the participants of the Our Victory campaign says.

My grandfather died in that war, he was killed near Leningrad. He was a teacher, not a hero but it was his duty to defend his fatherland. This ribbon is in his memory and the memory of all people who did not return from the war.

During the first year of the campaign more than 4 million St. George ribbons were distributed in Russian cities. Later Israel, the US, Canada and many other countries joined the campaign. The Progress spaceship delivered the symbol of Victory Day to the International Space Station (ISS).

This year, more than 13 million people took part in the St. George’s ribbon campaign on occasion of the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany.

Source: The Voice of Russia
9 December, 2010