War is here. On Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russian troops invaded their neighbor to the east, Ukraine. I am sixty-eight years old—I was a child of the cold war and have witnessed several other warring events.
A Child of the Cold War
In 1962, as a nine-year-old child, I remember the tension the adults showed around The Cuban Missile Crisis. We were at my grandparents’ in Amarillo, Texas. I remember anxiety hung heavy over that entire visit. As a child, I registered the strong feelings, yet did not know the severity of the event.
My parents’ generation remembered the nuclear bombs in World War II, so they focused on keeping us safe from experiencing that horror. Being a child of the cold war, I remember drills at school to get to the bomb shelters, announcements on TV, and signage in many stores in Trinidad, Colorado, identifying where the bomb shelters were in their building. The threat of a nuclear attack from Russia lingered for years.
Putin’s recent aggression brought me back to the Vietnam War era and my experience of watching it in our living room. I remember the death count mounting and the horror of jungle warfare nightly. It seemed to go on endlessly. The government drafted my brother at the end of the Vietnam War, but he didn’t have to go to Vietnam. Our family didn’t lose anyone in that war, but so many of my generation died!
Fast forward to my late twenties and early thirties after my first divorce—I often lamented I had lost my soul mate, killed in Vietnam. That idea haunted me during my drinking days. So, my heart has never embraced war, probably because of that experience.
When Desert Storm hit in 1990, I remember seeing the newscasters with gas masks on, worrying about chemical warfare here in the United States. Being single, I went to bed many nights scared to death of the coming horror.
I taught at the middle school in Raton, New Mexico and we had just studied Dr. Martin Luther King during January, 1991. In studying King, we also looked at David Thoreau’s essay, “Civil Disobedience.”
We talked about his sit-ins all over the South and King’s use of civil disobedience, and my students had listened more than I realized.
Then they queried me about what we could do in line with “Civil Disobedience” about Desert Storm. I talked to our principal, and he okayed a schoolwide assembly, not protesting Desert Storm, but war. My class organized this event, and we had it in the school gym. Several people (students and adults) spoke. We had pictures around the gym of National Guard members who had been called up. One of them, a janitor of ours, who we all loved, spoke from the heart, leaving all of us in tears.
When the students entered the gym, we ushered them to sit in the stands. At the end of the program, we invited anyone who was against war to join us on the gym floor as a sit-in against war. Everyone joined us—students and staff. We played patriotic music and just sat there on the floor together. I will never forget that day and how proud I was of my classes for becoming activists about their beliefs.
Now once again, war is here. . .
So Now, What?
Because of repeated warnings, the world knew Putin’s intentions for weeks. On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, I traveled south from southeastern Colorado to my home in Tijeras, New Mexico, listening for my four-and-a-half-hour drive to the newscasters trying to figure out what was coming! When would Putin strike? Were the sanctions tough enough? That listening didn’t relieve my doubts, fears, and anxiety, but I wanted to stay informed.
Will history repeat itself in Europe? Mom and I visited Eastern Europe in 1999 after the Berlin wall came down. It was an emotional trip going east from Germany into Poland. From Poland, we traveled south to Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. We then headed back west to Austria and flew out of Germany.
Being from the United States, I was shocked how we arrived in a different country so quickly on that trip! We are so spread out here in the USA, but within a short distance, we traveled through a couple countries in eastern Europe. That makes this war so much more intense, yet the consequences so threatening to all of Europe.
As I sit here thousands of miles away, I want to do something. Democracy allows me to share my opinion, and this blog works as a vehicle to do so. And you see—it’s because the United States celebrates our democracy I have the right of freedom of speech and share my opinion. I’ve seen many of the war protesters in Russia being hauled away to who knows where and what atrocities will happen to them.
Yes, democracy’s cost comes at a high price, but once again, we, who enjoy that luxury, have to protect the democracy of Ukraine. In protecting it there, thousands of miles away, we protect it here for me and you.
You might laugh at my question, “Will Russia invade the United States?” Don’t laugh, because it already has. Russian bots have filled Social Media with their propaganda and many Americans have fallen into their traps. Today, we have American sympathizers with Russia and Putin. Some politicians and newscasters lauded Putin as a genius, so the Russian invasion has happened to the USA—maybe not with boots on the ground, but with ideas and a division that Putin sees as a crack in our unity.
So, war is here. What now? What can I do? I offer two possibilities:
Silent Minute in World War I
During World War I, the Brits stopped and prayed for one minute each night at 9:00 PM, calling it the “Silent Minute.” They continued in World War II with an added dimension.
On November 10, 1940 at 9:00, all of Briton was gathered around their radios to find out how the war was going. The announcer explained that Big Ben chiming out 9:00 would be broadcast before the news from then on. The people of Briton were asked to take that one minute during the chiming to pray for, or visualize, peace. As everyone knew they were in for another night of bombing, there probably weren’t many who didn’t participate.
Join me nightly for a moment of silence and prayer at 9:00 PM to pray for Ukraine and their protection.
Pope Francis’ Appeal
See Pope Francis’ message appeal below to use March 2, 2022, Ash Wednesday, as a day of fasting for peace. Then I would encourage you to use this Lenten season ahead to continue to lift the Ukrainian people in prayer.
War is here again—so what now? Even though I live many miles away, I choose to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I support Ukraine, our president, NATO, and our leaders in this stressful time. There are a variety of ways to support the USA’s stance: Red Cross donations, prayers, signs of solidarity behind our leaders, etc.
What are you feeling? How are you making a difference?
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