When the Russian military began their incursion into Ukraine more than seven weeks ago, many believed the hostile takeover of the country would happen in a matter of days, not weeks. Out-manned and out-gunned, few experts gave the Ukrainian forces much hope of expelling the Russian invaders and retaining complete control of their nation.
Yet, as the world has watched, Ukraine has withstood the attack. The capital city of Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still in power, is still in his country, and has become an international hero for the bravery he has displayed throughout the crisis. The longer the Ukrainians hold out, the more likely it seems they may be able to repel the forces currently attacking them.
Yet all of it has come at a bitter cost.
This week, The Herald has highlighted recent activities at Cornerstone Church, where volunteers helped to collect and then assemble kits to send thousands of miles east. The kits, made up of essentials such as toiletries, are necessary. That’s because, while many Ukrainians have stayed to fight, millions of others have been forced to flee. They are now refugees, seeking shelter and safety away from the Russian bombs and bullets that rain down upon their homes and neighborhoods.
A recent NBC News report stated that Poland has already taken in more than 2.5 million Ukrainians. More than 600,000 have flooded into Romania, according to NPR. Here in the U.S., Ukrainian families began arriving a few weeks ago, including right here in Connecticut. Each refugee has expressed gratitude for the aid and a hope that it will not be necessary for too much longer. Unfortunately, it likely will be.
The severity of the Russian attack has reportedly grown more intense as their efforts have continued to be stymied. Each day, there seem to be new reports of potential atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people. Just recently, a missile attack on a Ukrainian train station in the city of Kramatorsk left approximately 50 civilians, including women and children, dead. According to reports, the people killed and injured were attempting to flee the conflict.
If and when this war is finally resolved, it will only be after more bloodshed. And when the shooting and bombing does ultimately cease, Ukraine will be left to pick up the pieces of a country devastated by this war. As such, it appears efforts like the one undertaken by Cornerstone Church will be necessary into the foreseeable future.
We here in the U.S. have a lot of problems. They, all of them, are well-chronicled and discussed. They deserve our attention, our concern, and our commitment to resolve them. But what we don’t have to worry about is an invading army shelling Washington, D.C., or New York City. What we haven’t had to do is pack up our essentials, leave our homes, and head for a foreign land, relying on the kindness of others and the generosity of another country’s government.
This should be yet another reminder that we can never forget to mix our anger over the problems of America with a great deal of gratitude for the ability to live in a country where such crises are non-existent. And it should also make us even more committed to helping those in need during this terrible time. That help can be as intense as offering a refugee family a place to stay, or as simple as donating money or essentials to groups offering outreach.
Showing support via social media is nice. Changing one’s profile picture or avatar to the Ukrainian flag is a sweet gesture of support. But much more than that is necessary. This is a real-world crisis in need of real-world solutions. Be grateful that we have the means to help.