My visit to Lenin's tomb (1992)
Red Square was red and Lenin was .... well creepy
On a whim, I signed up for the Young Ambassadors Program during my junior year of high school. My thought was that Russia sounds cool. Communism had just fallen and I had some extra blue jeans, so off I went. While the trip was interesting and I met many people, some of who were involved in black market business, ok well most of them were involved in black market business, this wasn't the pleasure trip I originally thought. For the most part it rained, and it was a cold to the bone kind of rain. It was obvious that this kind of weather influenced much of the architecture in Moscow, as the buildings were largely gray and drab. This made the Red Square seem all the more colorful, especially St. Basil's Cathedral, which dominated the farthest end. I was in a large group of Americans, who failed to disguise themselves very well (Yankee's hats are a dead give away), so we were always mobbed by people trying to sell us all sorts of cold war merchandise including army pins, coats, hats, holsters and most of this stuff could be purchased with some haggling for under a buck. Our group worked their way through the marketeers to stand in the only line in Red Square. This was the line to Lenin's Tomb.
Shut up, no smoking, keep walking and don't piss off the guys with the AK-47s
He looks just like his picture!
I wonder if that is his real beard...
After a long chilly wait, it was hard for me to believe it is summer, we finally make it to the entrance. There are quite a few rules one must follow when entering Lenin's Tomb and as there were so many soldiers carrying AK-47s, it is quite easy to decide to obey. There is no talking, no smoking and no picture taking in the tomb, also keep moving. We entered the tomb and were directed to go down a flight of stairs on the right that took us to a landing where more armed guards were stationed. It dawned on me that Russians must really take this Lenin guy seriously as we continued to move deeper into the respectful silence of the tomb. More soldiers flanked the glass coffin where Lenin was laid to rest. It felt like being in a wake except for the small voice in my brain that said, "This guy died 68 years ago!". The creepiness was accentuated by the guys with the assualt rifles, which by this point I was thinking was a bit overkill. As soon as the moment had begun, we were shuffled forward, back up to another landing with two more guards and finally out into the grayness of Moscow.