It’s the third day of March. Eight days ago, Ukrainians woke up to their country at war. Our friend Laura Kelly writes from Bulgaria where she is teaching journalism: 26 Ukrainian students on campus. Palpable dread, distress among students and profs. Refugees coming into Bulgaria over the Romanian border. It feels close and very very real and world scary. One of my students, Viktor, I am especially close with. Just met his parents a month ago when they came from Kyiv for the screening of his senior project. I love this kid, have had him in 4 classes. Viktor tethers me to Ukraine and I am heartbroken.
I contribute to a column for Flag Live! called Letter From Home. This week I’ve chosen to send out an old one, one of the first columns I ever wrote, about the Cold War. It’s a long piece, longer than readers may feel they have time for or interest in. Still, I’m sending it out in its entirety as a reminder. The Cold War itself was long and full of waiting and full of a kind of wonder that I don’t mean to equate with Christmas or fireflies or the first snowfall. It was the wonder of children who struggled to understand what was happening around them, why they had to run to their lockers and wedge their small bodies inside.
By the time my Letter From Home goes to print, there may be signs that air raid sirens and fallout shelters are not the direction in which we’re headed once again. But for the Ukrainians, the nature of the attack on their country is not just in the details, but in the larger context of unprovoked military aggression, nuclear or not. It is, after all these years—all the many years since my own childhood—“world scary” in Laura Kelly’s words, full of palpable dread, and heartbreaking. Here in America, from my comfortable chair, I am still trying to wake up to the fact that here we are again.
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