I am Ukrainian-American and I live in Washington, DC. Today, the world is watching as the clouds of a broader war spread closer to my beloved Ukraine. A country where I spent my childhood summers prior to the unjust invasion of Donbas and Crimea. A country filled with civilized, intelligent and beautiful people who want to live with dignity and esteem, free from oppression, threats, lies and corruption.
The war waged against us since 2014 was not our choice, but rather, the belligerent act of an aggressor nation without regard to international law or human suffering. This war is personal for me since my mother’s family lives close to the war zone. My cousin is trapped in occupied Donetsk unable to visit his family in free Ukraine. My mother’s close friend lost her mother to enemy fire in Avdivka while simply walking to the store to buy bread. My friend in the armed forces is now recovering in Mariupol after being injured by shrapnel from an anti-personnel device dropped by an enemy drone. Similar tragic stories are being told by tens of thousands of families all across Ukraine who did nothing to deserve such loss and suffering.
Seven percent of our country is under brutal occupation with millions of people facing daily blackouts, starvation, unsafe drinking water, non-existent health care, and a lack of other basic human services. More than 15,000 Ukrainians have been killed, including women and children who have been indiscriminately slaughtered by the repeated bombardment from the aggressor’s heavy weapons, all in violation of the laws of war. Millions of others have fled their homes only to become refugees longing for a return to normalcy. Torture and inhumane imprisonment are so common that virtually everyone arrested who lives to speak about it recounts a gallows of horrors inflicted upon them, memorialized by broken bones, disfigurement, and recurring nightmares. Women who survive carry the shame and scars of rape and humiliation. And every Ukrainian remembers the exact moment when they learned that a Russian Buk missile shot down a civilian airliner flying over our blue skies killing 298 innocent people. The images of bodies, luggage and wreckage strewn across what was once our gorgeous landscape are forever seared in our collective memory as a reminder of the daily terror we endure. The monsters responsible for that grotesque act of inhumanity then engaged in a crude, amateurish attempt to cover up their war crime with lies, evidence destruction and disinformation. But the entire world knows that only an aggressor devoid of all humanity could be capable of such a depraved and villainous atrocity.
We Ukrainians chose democracy over autocracy because we want to be free to fulfill our destiny as citizens of the world with universal rights based on mutual understanding and respect. Since 2014, barbarians have done everything possible to break our Ukrainian spirit yet those challenges have only made us stronger and more united, both at home and abroad. The shelling of our people, killing of our troops, and desecration of our land are scars that remind us that evil persists and the ghost of Ivan The Terrible lives on. It may be that we are again attacked by those who envy our liberty and self-determination. However, we are proud, brave and fearless people who will forever fight and resist anyone who tries to take away our freedom, dignity and democracy.
I am calling on everyone to take a moment to reflect on what it is like to be Ukrainian, free from war. Close your eyes and imagine our verdant fertile lands long called the breadbasket of the world because we provide sustenance to the planet not only with food, but with goodness, beauty, and humanity. Envision hundreds of miles of glorious sunflowers moving in unison with the sun and then lowering their petals for a peaceful night. Hear the bustling of vibrant cosmopolitan cities and listen as the wind carries the sounds of horses bringing wagons of fruits and vegetables to the village markets. See the children playing and laughing outdoors without a care in the world. This is the Ukraine that awaits us as long as all civilized nations and all civilized citizens on the planet unite in solidarity with us to oppose a broader war and regain our territory. Together, we are all one, because as Ukraine stands, so stands the entire free world. #StandWithUkraine
Washington D.C., 2022
I am Ukrainian-American and I live in Washington, DC. Today, the world is watching as the clouds of a broader war spread closer to my beloved Ukraine. A country where I spent my childhood summers prior to the unjust invasion of Donbas and Crimea. A country filled with civilized, intelligent ...