I am very sad today watching the Ukrainian people get killed for defending their freedom of speech. I am sad for all the cultures, over all the ages, that have been pushed down and persecuted – from the tribes I write about in my book, who walked the Trail of Tears, to the genocide of many other cultures in nations all over the world. Rwanda, Armenia, Thailand… (sadly a very long list)
The people of Ukraine have a special place in my heart.
Their past is littered with one persecutor to the next, over many centuries. The worst humanitarian atrocity came with the forced famine of 1921 installed by Stalin and his NKVD (government police), when 10 million people starved after Soviet troops removed all food stocks. The people of Ukraine were left with no food (which they grew) This was done to punish the people of Ukraine for not complying with Russian authority. That was THEN – and NOW…
Recent history gave new hope to the world.
After the Orange revolution, the people of Ukraine were finally free. They became an independent country on July 16th 1990. I remember my kids dressed up in their Plast uniforms (Ukrainian American Scouts) and they gave an address in the downtown city hall of Rochester NY in support of the Ukrainian people.
You see, Ukrainians who fled from their homeland during the WWII came to America and tried to keep their heritage alive – in fear someday it would disappear forever, because of the Russian infiltration. Cultural traditions were passed down, like many other cultures, with food, dress, books, and of course, language and songs. We all love the Ukrainian Christmas Carol, and the Easter pysanky eggs.
After Ukraine declared their freedom, (in the same place they protest today) there was no more torture for writing poetry or songs about your love of country
-Like world famous poet Taras Shevchenko . No more hiding your religion in fear of being arrested for being Catholic, no more fear. Finally families could see others who had fled Ukraine during the war, because they had refused to fight in the Russian army against other Europeans.
When families finally met each other after years of separation, they discovered that the Ukrainian language had changed – it had been infused with Russian words. It is unfortunate whenever any culture is shaded, or stolen. (Ask any American Tribe member, they are struggling to get back their native language. )
The one thing Russian dominance over the years could not cloud was the Ukrainian dream of being free.
Even after Ukraine was free, it soon became infiltrated with many of Russian descent, many who still felt that Ukraine should stay connected with their mother country, and not truly free. They taint the votes in elections. The current president blatantly denies the people’s rights, and quickly tries to pass laws to make his power stronger and the people weaker, and is making deals with the Russian government against the will of the citizens.
That is what this is all about – the voice of the people.
No matter how much the corrupt government and Russian influence try – they will never silence the people. It is so sad that people needlessly die – but I have been asking myself over and over again these past few months –
What would I do to keep my freedom of speech?
A brave Olympian, Alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska, gave up her dream to support her countrymen.
She is my new hero.
We need our leaders to step up – and support our ally. The president said some things today, but a stronger voice needs to be heard. No warm warnings. Tyrants who are purposefully taking away people’s freedom – our ally’s freedom – need to be dealt with strong language. That is all they understand.
Taras Shevchenko Poem “Testament”