ACROSS AMERICA — Not since the unprovoked attack of 9/11 has the world stood so solidly with another country as it is with Ukraine in what’s increasingly known as “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war” against the people of the sovereign Eastern European nation.
Putin is engaging in 20th century warfare in the 21st century digital information age, where just a swipe away are haunting images such as those of a bombed maternity hospital, hastily prepared mass graves and, among hordes of refugees, a child crossing the border alone, his parents’ contact information written on his arm with a Sharpie.
Galvanized by these images — and inspired by the mettle shown by Ukrainian military personnel and citizen soldiers far out matched by Putin’s army — Americans are marching, rallying, supplying and finding solidarity by literally breaking bread with people they’ve never met.
Few felt more strongly than the Rev. Ivan Mazuryk of the Protection of the Blessed Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, who delivered the first part of his speech at a large rally in Fairfield in the Ukrainian language.
“It’s a miracle that (the) whole world knows now about Ukraine,” said 87-year-old Elena Swyrydenko, who attended a rally in Fairfield, Connecticut, with her sister, Alexandra Korol. Their family was taken from Ukraine during World War II and brought to a work camp in Germany. (Anna Bybee-Schier/Patch)
Boots On The Ground
For Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, Mayor Paul Kanitra, the war is personal. Half his family are Polish and Slovakian. On the mayor’s Facebook page, he wrote he felt “compelled to do something watching this insane horror unfold.”
Kanitra, who has done humanitarian work in the area before, headed to Poland — like Ukraine, a shining example to the world with its outsized response to catastrophe — to help the millions of Ukrainians chased from their country by Putin’s bombs.
Kanitra and his best friend, Greg, were in the thick of encounter after encounter that kicked them square in the gut. One of the first was with a bus full of Ukrainian children, already orphaned, headed to other orphanages throughout Poland.
“To say we were choked up would be an understatement. It was almost impossible to keep from tearing up,” Kanitra wrote in a post on Facebook. “I offered them literally all of the money in my wallet, but in the end they only would take the equivalent of a few hundred dollars. …” Patch’s Karen Wall has more.