All Kidding Aside, Finally

So many aphorisms, wise sayings, koans…whatevers exist abo...


Constant State of Unknown

Ukrainians may be on the front lines in the war with Russia,...


A luxury We Enjoy

Thomas LeeJun 17, 2022 (0)

Every flag here, in Kharkiv, represents a foreign fighter killed.

My time in Ukraine, as much as time on other deployments, has shown me that without a doubt, as Americans we are a privileged people. Not just materially, but in many ways. We have the two greatest defensive structures on earth protecting us to the east and the west, and to the north the vast steppes of Canada, filled with allies who more often than not are skilled in the arts of war. Churchill said “British officers, Canadian soldiers and American technology, which I think does our fighting men a disservice, but still: fighting Canadians in Canada is not something I would wish to do. And Mexico presents its own set of tactical and strategic problems, not to mention being a bit warlike themselves.  So when we fight, we generally do it elsewhere, for the notion that a force could attack the United States and keep itself supplied for any length of time is unrealistic. It is true that Alaska and Russia are close, but once again: General Winter works for the Russians and against them, and would if they tried to take the Aleutian chain. Ask the Japanese, who had little to no success there.


What only makes sense to me now if that this was is not seen as a war in and of itself – it is seen as the continuation of many other wars, the most recent being just eight years ago. Many of the characters are the same, the strategies, tactics and weapons are unchanged. Russia is only able to do it given its proximity, but that has resulted, at least in part, in the determination the Ukrainians feel for getting the message across to them, henceforth and forevermore: Ukraine for the Ukrainians. There is a kinship between them; they are both Slavic peoples, and their alphabets, so different from ours, are very similar. Many of the older men served in the Red Army, and even know from their time in Afghanistan the leaders of the Russian army today. But I have included the first set of a 35 panel memorial, done in graphic novel style, with this: it has elements of the supernatural, with the protector of Ukraine, St Michael the Archangel, interceding against Moscow; and a Kali-like creature, a goddess of death, representing Moscow. I will give with each panel a short description, and hope it makes sense. But what should make sense is thisL the flowers on the graves of the men who died for Ukraine, even if they were in the Red Army, or even the Czar's Army, in WWI, and always covered with flowers. And the flowers are always new.

We had our revolution, and the civil war; but when they were over, they were over. Our foreign wars have ended when we retreated to what in effect is the largest island redoubt in the world. Not so the Europeans; someone is always on their border, and often looking hungrily at their land, their minerals, their riches of whatever variation. And we should remember that: we have enjoyed the power to choose war.

These people live with a bifurcated notion of time: wartime or not wartime, and both are variations of normality.

The flowers are always fresh on the graves. Always.

The writer is a former military man, now researching and writing about the Ukrainian Conflict. Questions can be sent directly to


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