08 September 2012

An Address to the Russian People from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, on the 200th Anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812

An Address to the Russian People from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, on the 200th Anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812

My Dear Countrymen!

We are presently celebrating the 200th anniversary of the victory of our people in the Patriotic War of 1812.

On June 12/25, 1812, the revolutionary army of Bonapartist France, supported by a coalition of twenty European nations that had previously been subjugated by Napoleon, without any declaration of war, crossed the border into Russia. The invaders sought to destroy the Empire, which had been built over many centuries, to install foreign control over Russia, and to deprive forever our Homeland of the status of a Great Power. It was the first shock of this magnitude that Russia had experienced since the Time of Troubles at the turn of the seventeenth century. But unlike then, it was not the loss of particular territories of the country, nor the imposition of some or other foreign policy that was threatened, but it was the very fate of the People and Nationhood of Russia that was at stake.

However, the enemy’s plans were crushed by the invincible faith, the firm loyalty, and the unprecedented self-sacrifice of our ancestors. They managed to rally themselves in the face of impending disaster, setting aside their conflicts and differences, their resentments, and various grievances. Everyone understood that their common Home was under threat—a Home that might have been imperfect in some ways, but nonetheless was their native homeland, dear to each and everyone’s heart, and consecrated by the prayers, labors, and shed blood of many prior generations.

Russia’s victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 was achieved first and foremost by the strength of Spirit of the nation, which was one with its Sovereign and with its military commanders. Having lived through the painful retreat and even the fall of the holy capital city of Moscow, the Russian Army, relying on God’s help and drawing on the support of the people, expelled the invaders and saved not only their countrymen, but all of Europe, from tyranny. As the great poet Alexander Pushkin wrote, by our blood “Europe’s liberty, honor, and peace were redeemed.”

Memory eternal to the brave soldiers and civilians who took upon themselves the main burdens of this war. Memory eternal to the commanders—to “the Initiator,” Mikhail Bogdanovich Barclay de Tolly, and to “the Completer,” Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov, and to all their glorious fellow officers. Memory eternal to the archpastors and clergy who in prayer and action also participated in the defense of their Fatherland. And memory eternal to Emperor Alexander I the Blessed, whose strong will and intuition played a critical role in the people’s victory.

The time in which we live today is very different from that era. Both the form of government and the shape of society have greatly changed, as has the way people think. Even so, the ideals of love for God, Fatherland, and Family have remained the same. This love is the main weapon we have in the ongoing struggle of Good against Evil.

We must remain amicable with the outside world and avoid succumbing to suspicion and isolation, even while recognizing that a country as great as Russia will always have powerful rivals. In the past, our enemies sought to crush Russia by the sword. Today, we see a more subtle, but equally dangerous, range of threats to the foundations of our spirituality and culture, threats which are capable of destroying our lofty ideals and artificially dividing our society.

History shows time and again that only a genuine national unity that is based on respect for the common national values of our thousand-year-long Russian civilization can protect Russia from any and all disasters, can guarantee its freedom, and can assure its future sovereignty.

The memory of the achievements of the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812 and of other great wars will forever be for us and for our descendants a living example of patriotism, courage, and genuine brotherhood.

H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia

Issued in Madrid
August 26/September 8, 2012
On the Anniversary of the Battle of Borodino

A.N. Zakatov
Director of H.I.H.’s Chancellery

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