SYMBOL OF THE RUSSIAN EXPLORERS
This cross was granted to the citizen-soldier or militia, when they were called to arms. The regular army wore a tricolor rosette over the bill of the cap. This call to arms is called Opolchenye in Russian.
Before the reign of Peter the Great, the citizen-soldiers were summoned during conflicts as auxiliaries to the regular army. Due to this practice, the Russian army did not need to rely on foreign mercenaries. Under Peter the Great and subsequently, this call to arms was issued in the case of imminent danger to the nation. The Opolchenye was mobilized in 1708 during the Great Northern War with the Swedish Kingdom, in 1812 when Napoleon invaded Russia, during the Crimean War of 1855 when a European coalition attacked Russia, and in World War I when Russia rose in the defense of the small Serbian Kingdom. Thus, the Opolchensky Cross became the symbol of Russian ideals and the establishment of Russia as a sovereignty, both of which were destroyed by alien ideologies and enemies of all that is Russian.
The center of the Opolchensky cross contains the monogram of Peter the Great with his initials (Petrus Primus). On the horizontal bars are the years 1682 and 1982. In 1682, Moscow’s Red Square saw the first encampment of the young Peter’s youthful companions who engaged in military drills, weapons’ use and other field exercised. 1982 commemorated the 300th anniversary of that event.
A note: some of the older crosses bear the years 1682 and 1932, when the 250th anniversary was commemorated.RUSSIA’S FLAGS
Peter the Great established the tricolor flag in 1705 as the official flag of Russia. This flag, however, was first hoisted in 1667 in Astrakhan aboard the vessel Orel during the reign of Tsar Alexis Mihailovich. The three colors symbolize the following:
- White is for faith, purity and dignity
- Blue is for the seas and rivers washing through Russia
- Red is for the blood spilled for Russia
THE FLAG RAISING CEREMONY
The ceremony, during which the Russian tricolor, the US Stars and Stripes and the flag of St. Andrew are raised, is accompanied by the singing of the first three verses of the Preobrazhensky March.
The Preobrazhensky Regiment originated from a unit of Peter’s youthful companions. It was the first elite regiment commissioned, which served as a personal guard to the Tsar.