I am so proud to stand with Ukraine. My grandparents and great-grandparents came from there and the surrounding areas. I’m over 90% Ukrainian(ish). (It’s really complicated because of wars, land switching hands and countries being re-drawn over the years.)
I was told that after my grandparents arrived, they refused to speak about the “old country” because they were no longer there, so I don’t know a lot of my history. I was told that was quite common with people from that region.
What I do know is that 2.2 million Ukrainians were captured and forced into slavery in Germany during WWII, and over 5-1/2 million were slaughtered by Hitler and his armies. More Ukrainians were lost in WWII than from any other country. Millions starved before that in a famine, and grief and strife has haunted that region for many hundreds of years. And don’t get me started on Stalin, Lenin and the Bolsheviks! (I’m still learning about that.)
What Putin is doing today isn’t different from what’s happened to Ukrainians for centuries, and it’s just as despicable and wrong. I stand with the relatives I will never meet or know, the millions who are in harm’s way, those that have died in the past, and with the Russians who have the courage to stand up and protest this unconscionable war.
I am SO proud to be Ukrainian, and I now know why I used to call myself Helga, the ox that pulled the plow. I honor the Ukrainians on Snake Island who told a Russian warship to go f*ck itself. I applaud the sign company that is making new road signs to confuse the Russians as they roll through the country, especially the ones that tell them to f*ck off. I am amazed at the Ukrainian who tried to push a tank away with their bare hands, and the people who are swarming around military vehicles to try to stop them. My favorite is the grandmother who handed sunflower seeds to a soldier, telling him to put them in his pocket so flowers would grow from his dead body on Ukrainian ground. These are my people, and I only hope I have the courage to be this brave if the need ever arises.
You are my heroes, all of you. Don’t ever give up, and know that there are millions upon millions of people around the world praying for you and finding ways to donate what they can.
I loved living in the East Village for 25 years, partly because my grandmother landed there after Ellis Island and was a waitress in a local restaurant. One of the few things I miss about leaving New York are the pirogies (that we called petalhee) and stuffed cabbage (hulapchee) at the Ukrainian Restaurant – the only place that called the food the same as my grandmother did. Kiev, B&H, Odessa, Vselka – there were so many wonderful Ukrainian/Eastern European restaurants in that area.
I’m flying my Ukrainian flag here in New Mexico. Stay strong, Ukraine, stay strong!