A Requested Op-Ed Piece
One year of living in a historical war is not going to be an anniversary but a day of remembrance. There’s really no one you can share this with beyond those in Ukraine. How many people have the experience of being under direct fire of a major world power? The major world power is disputable now, but the threat of death is not. People often ask why do you stay? The answer is not easy. Part of it is spiritual, another is obligatory, and the rest is lost in the gray mist of war. Kyiv is a very spiritual place and once it grabs you, it is difficult to let go. The obligatory part is that someone that is not Ukrainian has to stay. We who stay must be witnesses and voices for those who left, lost their loves and specifically to let those in our world, in our home countries know that Ukraine deserves military, economic, and humanitarian assistance. Why?
Because Ukraine is fighting the good fight. The one that so many of us grew up with, the values of freedom, democracy, justice that we sing in our national anthems and celebrate in our holidays. Here on the ground in Ukraine, we are watching them die for these values that we uphold in our own countries. We have to stand with them because we owe it to them if we are to continue to believe in it back in our own place of birth. Otherwise, it’s just lip service, flag waving, fireworks, a day off from work and a family get together. One day, we in Ukraine want to celebrate that collective holiday of freedom over tyranny.
All of our lives have changed in some way here in Ukraine. Some on a major level, others on a minor level. Our lives are in arrested development because of the actions of the Russian Federation. Some of us have made the most of it, learned new skills, gained new friends and many have found a true purpose, a calling. There are no vacations in war. Even if we could take a vacation, how would we live with ourselves knowing our war brothers and sister are still under the Kremlin’s guns? All we can do is find small escapes to rest our bodies, minds and spirits. Even then, we know there are those in ‘hot” zones that don’t have that luxury but we in the rear must do it. If we are to remain strong, then we must find that mode that allows us to shut out the war if even only for a minute, an hour, a day.