No, they are not really “letters.” They are electronic messages sent by a very brave woman in Ukraine. She “texts” them whenever she is able to recharge her cell phone and whenever she is not seeking safety deep in a shelter.
Oksana first escaped her homeland when the Russians attacked 336 days ago only to return a few months later to help her country fight the Russian aggression.
The story of how Oksana “went from teaching how to prepare tea to learning how to fight for her country” can be read HERE.
Since the brutal, indiscriminate Russian attacks on civilians during Christmas and the New Year, the atrocities have continued relentlessly.
The past two weeks have been particularly cruel to the Ukrainian people. First, in one of the deadliest attacks since the beginning of the war, Russian missiles destroyed a multistory apartment building killing 45 people, including six children in the southeastern city of Dnipro.
If this wasn’t tragic enough, a few days later a helicopter carrying the Ukrainian Interior Minister and staff crashed in dense fog in the Kyiv suburb of Brovary, setting a kindergarten ablaze and killing 14, including a child, and injuring 25, including 11 children.
But life – cruel and unbearable as it may be – must continue for the people of Ukraine. They courageously fight in the armed forces They help rescue survivors from the rubble of bombed-out buildings and homes. They provide food and firewood to those in dire need, or – as Oksana does – give support, aid and comfort to exhausted and wounded troops returning from the front (lead image).
What is most inspiring is the Ukrainian people’s will to continue as many normal activities and traditions as possible even in the face of horrific and irretrievable losses.
Oksana, for example, was preparing to help others celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with a traditional Chinese “tea party” at her Tea Club.
In the face of insufferable human tragedy and sheer devastation of their country, Ukrainians cherish things that we in our comfortable lives sometimes take for granted. Most of all, they continue to have unshakable hope. Just a few days ago, Oksana woke up to a rainbow in the sky. “An incredible sight, she emerged from the fog so bright and clear!” Oksana writes, adding, “I think this is a good sign for Ukraine!”
But today, Oksana’s email is somber, perhaps foreboding. She writes, “Today we have a very difficult day, as Russian missiles and drones have been shelling the entire territory of Ukraine all night and morning.” “But we are holding on!” she adds.
The massive attacks, are being widely reported and described by one Ukraine official as “senseless barbarism.”
The courage, heroism, determination, defiance of and contempt for the Russian invaders displayed by Ukrainians is simply incredible.
At “the official web site of Ukraine,” there is an entire section devoted to Ukraine’s “Defenders of Freedom” with stories of more than 200 Ukrainian men, women, even children, from all walks of life who have shown those qualities — some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.
• How Valeriia and several other students organized and celebrated their prom among the ruins of their school in Kharkiv that was destroyed by the Russians a few days after the invasion.
• About a 26-year-old policeman, Ivan Simoroz, who lost six relatives, including his parents, wife and young daughter when his home was destroyed in a Russian attack. Yet, he continued to evacuate others from the attacked town.
• How Yaroslav, only 11 years old, took care of his mother who lost one leg and his sister who lost both legs after a Russian missile attack on the crowded Kramatorsk railway station.
• About an ordinary Ukrainian man who bare-handedly carried a mine found near the bridge and houses in Berdyansk to a location far from the intended targets.
• How Anastasiia and two friends were brutally murdered by Russian military in their car as they were delivering food to people and pets in the occupied suburbs of Kyiv.
• About the 45-year-year-old lieutenant colonel and border guard, Ihor Dashko, who, severely wounded and surrounded by Russian troops, blew himself and the Mariupol radio station up to prevent the station from falling into Russian hands.
Finally, you’ll read about the brave guards defending Zmiinyi (Snake) Island in the Black Sea (below) at the very beginning of the war. When a Russian ship offshore demanded the guards lay down their arms and surrender, the guards famously responded – and gestured — “Russian warship go f*ck yourself.”
Sadly, the Russians seized the island and killed or captured the guards.
Ironically, less than two months later, that same ship, the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was hit by Ukrainian missiles and “now rests ingloriously at the bottom of the Black Sea.”
A few weeks later, the brave guards’ words and gesture were immortalized on a Ukrainian stamp that sold like wildfire around the world.
All of the guards were awarded the title of “Heroes of Ukraine.”
Many of the stories at the Ukraine website end with the words, “Eternal glory to you, Hero!” and “Eternal glory to the heroine.”
Appropriate words to end this story with.
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos from war.ukraine,ua.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.