When my grandparents were coming to America, they brought with themselves a box that contained my grandmother’s father’s medals. He earned them by fighting for Russia during World War II. During the war, he served as the Lieutenant Colonel of the 303rd Zenith Artillery Regiment. His regiment was tasked with shooting down enemy aircraft from the ground and launching explosives at the opposition. With 3,000 men under his command, he would march into numerous battles all over Europe. He was awarded 18 medals, including two Red Stars awarded for his heroics in the deadliest battles of the war. The first Red Star Medal was awarded to him for fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad. The second medal was awarded to him for liberating Vienna from the Nazis. These two medals are entrenched with his sacrifices and memories.
The medals, earned in a country that was no longer my home, felt as important to me as anything. My great-grandfather selflessly fought for his country so that one day I would be able to create my own path. I held one of the Red Stars in my hand and felt its value and importance. It was not just a red metal star with a silver artillery man on it, it was my great-grandfather’s history, his bravery, and his heroics. The medals symbolize my great-grandfather’s heroics, and all that he meant to my family.
Although I never met him, he will always be part of me, through his memories and medals. He is part of my history and I am proud of him.
– Vadim Mell