Friday, April 29, 2022

The War Goes On


Like you, I’m tired of hearing about Putin’s war against Ukraine.  It started two months ago on Monday, February 21, and everyone was sure that it would be over within a few days. Russia seemed unstoppable, a major world power with unlimited ability to destroy and kill, and Ukraine seemed ill-prepared and in a daze.  We all expected the war to be over by that weekend.

But the war didn’t stop, and there doesn’t seem any sign that it will stop any time soon.

Everyday, I open the paper and turn on the news and go on social media, and I hear about the Russian forces advancing here and pulling back there.  I hear about the Ukrainians doing the unbelievable, standing up to the Russians and pushing them back slowly to the borders of their country.  I hear about the Polish government issuing a 36-page guide telling Poles how they should prepare for a possible invasion of Poland and – what’s worse – a possible nuclear attack.

And I hear more than that.  I hear the news that I don’t want to hear.  I hear about the misery this war has caused for the Ukrainians. 

I hear about the buildings destroyed in Lviv and Mariupol and Kyiv and little towns no one outside of Ukraine has ever heard of.  I see footage of mothers carrying their babies through the rubble of destroyed streets, of grandmothers sitting in those streets weeping, of fathers pushing their struggling children into buses that will hopefully save them by taking them to Katowice or Lublin. 

I hear all of this, and I wonder what the people of Russia are thinking.  Are they being lied to by their government?  Are they being told there is no war?  That the Russian soldiers in Ukraine are simply on an extended picnic, and they will be back in their home towns before the first rose blooms this summer.  Or do the Russian people know the truth that there nation is a nation of murderers and rapist and killers of children and their moms and dads and grandparents. 

And I know that this war will not end even when it ends.   

For those that have been in a war, suffered its brutality, endured its grief or succumbed to that grief, war does not end.    

I know this because I saw it in my parents.  They were teenagers when the Germans invaded Poland and did the terrible things to the country and to my mother and father that they did, brutalizing and killing their families and sending them to the slave labor camps in Germany.  

My parents lived with these memories of the war all their lives.  There was never a day that they didn’t carry the psychological wounds of the war with them.  Fifty years after the war, the pain of the terrible things they experienced and saw was still with them.

And it will be like this for the Ukrainians and for those of us watching this war.

My latest column for the Dziennik Zwiazkowy, the oldest Polish newspaper in America.


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