Wednesday, July 9, 2014

No glory in war

    For someone whose childhood and tween years were overwhelmed by the war waged by foreign aggressor armies, with the local vulnerable population being the first and most numerous victims, my wife and i Katrusia cannot help but to be compassionate for the people, especially children and teenagers, of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and other places where there is no peace. Our thoughts, prayers, and often tears, are mostly directed toward our native Ukraine, where treacherous bands of murderers sent from and equipped by the neighborly country which often calls itself “brother of Ukraine” kill, maim and rape innocent citizens and destroy their homes.

    One of the latest official news items about the situation in Ukraine speaks of weeks and perhaps months before the remaining strongholds of the
murderous mercenaries sent from and equipped by Russia can be liberated, mainly because the main goal of the Ukrainian military personnel is “to minimize loss of life of the civilian population.”

    My wife Katrusia takes the situation especially hard. She was only 8 years old in 1944, the youngest child of her parents, when the front line, for the nth time, moved close to her village, and the inhabitants were forced to evacuate. It was to be only temporary, until the attacking forces would be driven back, but the attacking forces did not retreat. Consequently, Katrusia, her 15-year old
brother and their ailing mother were continuously moved away from the attacking Soviet Russian army until they found themselves in Germany. Her father, a World War I veteran whose war injuries got worse due to a lack of medical attention during the ongoing war, was unable to be moved and was left behind. Also, her 17-year-old brother, Yanko, who joined the clandestine Ukrainian Insurgent Army known by the Ukrainian initials “UPA” to fight the occupational Nazi German administration, remained with the rest of his fighting comrades (and eventually died, with his final resting place “known only to God”).

    The next seven years, until she and her mother were finally able to come to the United States in 1951, they had to endure the existence of other displaced persons by being moved from one camp to another. Since Katrusia’s
mother was too ill to work, Katrusia had to be her mother’s mother, taking care of her and doing everything she could to feed her and herself.

    This is why Katrusia often cries when she reads about or sees on TV the stories about the killings and other atrocities, young orphans left behind, and all who had to flee their domiciles. She asks often: Will the wars ever end?

                                                        • • •

    The list of departed members of the North Port and Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community that appeared in last week’s column inadvertently omitted the name of the late Stefan Solohub Sr., 90, of North Port, an active member of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, who passed away March 24, 2014.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at atanask@aol. com. 

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

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