Today is March 11, 2022. Two weeks ago, I never had any reason to hear the national anthem of Ukraine. Now, the words and music ring in my thoughts.
At the beginning of this Russian war against the people of Ukraine, I never had any reason to know much about the people of Ukraine, or to hear the national anthem of Ukraine. Now, the words and music ring in my thoughts, and I have learned to respect and admire the people of Ukraine.
In the news on TV, I see how your men and women of the Ukrainian Armed Forces defend your homes, fight back, and win against the Russians. I am especially drawn to your older men and women in the territorial defense units. I see your fierce bravery, your steadfast spirit, your obvious fighting ability. You men and women of Ukraine are exceptional people in exceptional times. You fight so bravely and so well against the Russian invaders of your homeland.
In my thoughts, I am taken back to another place and time . . . to the guys of my U.S. naval advisory team in Vietnam, and the tough, resilient Vietnamese sailors, marines, and special forces soldiers we used to know. Now, safely back home in South Dakota, I am far, far away in distance and time from the silence and the noise of our daily lives in harm’s way more than 50 years ago in far away Vietnam.
Would you believe it? Seeing you young and older Ukrainian men and women on my TV screen, I have to say, the feeling within me is still the same . . . profound respect and reverence.
With genuine admiration, I see the faces of young . . . and older . . . Ukrainian men and women fighting with growing confidence and courage against the invading Russian enemy in front of you. It is amazing to see the men and women of the Ukrainian self defense forces, the volunteers, the rescuers, the first responders, the doctors, the nurses, the police, the firefighters, the electrical workers, the water and sewer workers, the railroad workers, your children, the members of parliament, and your President standing up so well to the criminal behavior of the Russian invaders.
Men and women of Ukraine, I see how confident and resilient you are as you protect and defend your homeland. You keep your word. You fulfill the oaths you have taken. You defend your families and children, who are watching you. The world is also watching you. You have promises to keep . . . and you do not flinch.
In America, we say “God Bless America.” In Ukraine, you say pretty much the same thing, “Слава Україні! (Slava Ukraini!) “Glory to Ukraine!” Героям слава! (Heroiam slava!) “Glory to the heroes!” I say, “Blessings to you, and to everyone you love, and to everyone who loves you.” We are many, and we stand with you.