I was watching the news a couple of days ago. The reporter was at the border crossing in Poland from Ukraine speaking to refugees coming off the trains. She noticed a few different men heading towards the border (back into Ukraine) so she stopped them and asked them what they were doing. They were young (20's, 30's) and had on various camo clothing, a couple didn't even have on heavy coats, only sweaters and layers in negative temps. Four Americans (Florida, New York, and I didn't catch the other two states) and one from Britain. None of them knew each other before arriving in Poland. I can't remember which one said this when asked why they were going in to fight with Ukraine, but I will remember it for the rest of my life...
"If not me, then who?" History repeating itself.
They had also met a French Canadian there at the border. He was retired military, a sniper, and his best friend in Ukraine had called and asked him to come help. He couldn't say no. So I sat and watched the TV as four Americans, a Brit, and a French Canadian piled into an SUV on the Ukranian border and headed out into the night. Reality hit hard in those tail lights across my TV. They wouldn't give their names or where they were going for obvious reasons. I learned this morning that number has grown to over 20k who have entered that same border crossing to go fight with Ukraine.
For perspective, 20k people is two times more than the population of Columbia, IL (where I live now) and it is four times more as the population of the town I grew up in Munford, TN the year I graduated high school. It's been hard to stay here for me when I feel compelled to go help. It slices at your soul, and I am sure many of you feel the same. I would probably be more in the way than I would helpful, but it's hard none the less.
When Zelensky won his Presidency in 2019, he told the government offices and I quote - "The President is not an icon, hang pictures of your children in offices and look them in the eyes before every decision." He is not a politician, but I think God knew what Ukraine would need, and I think God knew what the world would need. He reminds me of Batman, the anti-hero. Someone said this morning that Zelensky has become the voice of conscience of the world, and I think they are right. How silly some of our differences seem now.
I said earlier that "reality hit hard in those tail lights across my TV," but you know what else hit? Hope. What a juxtaposition this is - grief and hope, fear and freedom, so many opposing emotions to feel through it all, and yet it isn't an ounce of what Ukraine must be feeling. But I choose hope.
And I choose to be grateful. I choose to be grateful that I live in a country where I can express my agreement or disagreement, where I don't have to worry about a bomb being dropped over my head because my neighbor is big mad about history, that I live in a country that fights like hell with each other. We are the Jerry Springer of the world y'all, but you know what else? We are the last country in the world you'd want to challenge because we may be the cowboys of the "West" but when you come for one, you come for all. And I believe that with every fiber of my being. Ukraine relit my patriotism for America on fire and I hope it restored some of yours also. The people of Ukraine remind me of what we once were, and what we are, and what we can be.
I will come back in the days ahead to talk about some of the impacts small business are seeing as an educational post, not a b*tching post. It's hard for me to talk about small business impacts when the human impact is so much greater, but I know many of you ask for updates. I am not naïve or blind to war in the world, geopolitics, and the like, so if you are coming for me on a political front, let's just not.
Until then, Slava Ukraini.