Larissa Kosmos is a Ukrainian-American author. Her essays have appeared in The New York Instances, The Washington Put up, The Christian Science Monitor and in different numerous shops. She additionally works as a copywriter for Adcom.
When my grandmother fled the Soviet invasion of Ukraine in 1944 with my then three-year-old mom in tow, the household caravan of horse-drawn wagons only a day or two forward of the advancing Pink Military, she carried her late father’s struggle medal along with her.
The Cross of Simon Petlura — a small black cross inlaid with a silver sword and the Ukrainian trident, hooked onto a blue, yellow and black striped ribbon — had been awarded to him in recognition of his service throughout battles for Ukraine’s independence.
Between 1918 and 1920, he had defended the cities of Kharkiv, Poltava, Kremenchuk and Proskuriv from the Bolsheviks, who had stormed Ukraine below Vladimir Lenin’s command. Then taken captive by the Russians, my great-grandfather managed to flee, discovering his technique to a brand new regiment in Berdychiv.
As a toddler, my grandmother was struck by the distinguished scar on his again — a mark of a extreme damage and a everlasting reminder of his battle for an impartial Ukraine.
At present, over 100 years since my great-grandfather battled Russian forces, writing in English however kindled by a Ukrainian coronary heart because the American-born descendant of 4 Ukrainian immigrant grandparents, I observe information of the struggle carefully, my ache and delight interlocked.
Six months into this merciless actuality, I’m sure my motherland will prevail. We’ve continued towards Russia’s continual, violent want to smother Ukraine for generations, and we are going to perpetually persist — individually and collectively, each in Ukraine and within the diaspora.
We are going to proceed elevating people of energy and character.
Our energy can’t be manufactured or imported by railway or measured in stockpiles. It’s borne from a legacy of braveness, conviction and perseverance. Simply because the Ukrainian Rebel Military fought tirelessly within the 1940’s towards each the Soviets and the Nazis, so too are as we speak’s warriors a mannequin of resistance and tenacity. Past defiance, what they’ve inherited from their forebears is humility, and the understanding that Ukraine’s proper to independence is larger than any of our single Ukrainian lives.
We are going to hold our tradition thriving.
Our pysanky — exquisitely and intricately painted Easter eggs, so delicate within the palm of a hand — are impenetrable to the pressure of Russian missiles. Our Ukrainian Bandurist Refrain — that includes our nation’s distinctive 60-stringed instrument, the bandura — has survived for over a century; and because the voice of Ukraine, the bandura won’t ever be silenced.
Our vibrant dancers — with colourful ribbons on the ladies’s wreaths, fluttering as they spin, and the lads with their astounding acrobatics —can be executing a triumphant hopak as Russia’s tanks stall and rust. When one era concludes the dance, the subsequent will decide up the place they left off, a recurring storm of Ukrainian power. And our well-known borsch? Arms off, Russia. It’s ours.
We are going to guarantee our youngsters know Ukraine’s historical past.
By means of our diaspora’s Saturday colleges and scout organizations, by way of our writing and movies, by way of our museums and archives, by way of the work of our historians and professors, and thru our personal dedication and company, we are going to assist protect Ukraine’s story and relay it to the subsequent era.
We are going to illuminate the true model of occasions, leaving Russia’s fabrications within the shadows. Our historical past can be shared not solely publicly however privately. “Hear,” my grandmother would say to me in Ukrainian as she started unspooling her World Battle II tales, “in order that .”
As so lots of our grandparents did earlier than, as we speak’s survivors will convey their experiences of trauma and resilience, fixing these realities within the minds of their grandchildren.
We are going to honor our victims, and we are going to elevate the world’s consciousness of them.
Our Holodomor Memorial in Washington stands as a tribute to the thousands and thousands who starved to loss of life between 1932 and 1933 in Joseph Stalin’s engineered famine — a genocide by which Ukrainian farmers’ grain, crops and livestock had been confiscated. We’ve endeavored to grant these thousands and thousands of souls a measure of dignity, a everlasting marker on the earth and in reminiscence, with the creation of a bronze wall in america capital.
At present’s victims can be honored too: The troopers killed in battle, the civilians tortured and executed, the youngsters and ladies raped, the innocents maimed by explosives buried below rubble . . . We are going to memorialize them and pursue justice for his or her ache.
We can be led by our heroes.
The strongest metal is solid within the hottest fireplace, and now within the throes of hell, Ukraine’s heroes are multiplying. Whereas the blood being spilled is inciting super grief because it runs all through the land, seeping even past the nation’s borders, it’s additionally nourishing august delight. Ukraine is amassing a military of position fashions that can be inspirational and immortal.
We are going to rebuild Ukraine — no matter how lengthy it takes.
Ukrainians worldwide will contribute cash and muscle to reconstruction. With the identical tenacity that constructed St. Sophia’s Cathedral, the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves and Potocki Palace, we are going to see it by way of — each brick changed, each shard of hatred eliminated, each beam standing tall as soon as extra. No quantity of destroy can destroy our will to resurrect our homeland.
And we are going to steadfastly assist Ukraine.
Ukrainians within the diaspora have at all times helped the motherland. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, we started serving as election observers in a newly free Ukraine. Many people moved there to work, investing our skills and energies into growing the nation’s nascent democratic authorities and free-market economic system. Fueled by the descendants of World Battle II refugees, philanthropic organizations started rising in Ukraine, and our youth started lending a hand, touring to volunteer at summer season camps for Ukrainian orphans.
When Russia invaded jap Ukraine within the spring of 2014, grassroots teams just like the Cleveland Maidan Affiliation mobilized to assist struggle efforts, supplying overwhelmed hospitals with medical assist and funding the acquisition of ambulances to move injured troopers. Among the wounded had been delivered to the U.S. for specialised surgical procedures, and had been welcomed into the properties of Ukrainians they’d by no means earlier than met and who supported their restoration.
For the final six months of Russia’s invasion, the diaspora has been equally serving to to maintain Ukraine, extensively, passionately and tirelessly. Quite a few organizations within the U.S. and Europe are contributing: dispatching protecting helmets and vests for civil resistance; shopping for turbines; sending donated firefighter gear for emergency service personnel; mobilizing communities to pack particular person first-aid kits for troopers; sending medical provides and gear to hospitals and assist to refugee camps; and bringing pediatric most cancers sufferers, and their households, out of the battle zone for continued medical care.
For these of us born outdoors of Ukraine, our citizenship and proximity to the nation have by no means mattered. We’re one Ukrainian household, devoted to one another for all times.
We are going to persevere, regardless of our accidents and profound losses. When as we speak’s preventing ends, the brand new scar on Ukraine’s again will remind our youngsters of their legacy — and their responsibility. 100 years from now, and past, we are going to defend and assist our homeland.
My great-grandfather’s struggle medal, which my grandmother safeguarded by way of her nine-month escape in a lined wagon, 4 years in Germany’s refugee camps, a two-week voyage throughout the Atlantic to the Port of New York, and a lifetime of working and elevating a household in Cleveland — not dwelling an American dream however recovering from a Russia-inflicted nightmare — is now in my care.
I’ve instructed my kids to donate it to Cleveland’s Ukrainian Museum Archives once I’m gone, in order that others can also see this small, concrete image of Ukraine’s long-standing battle for freedom.