We’ve all been gripped by the news over the past couple of weeks about the incursion into Ukraine by Russia. Like most of you, it’s been a real education about connecting the dots between parts of World History class that I paid attention to and those I should’ve paid much more attention to.
Sure, I caught the highlights of how and why World War II ended, but it’s been a real journey learning how Russia became the USSR, then Russia again, and is now trying to be Ukraine’s illegitimate daddy.
Sadly, I should know much more about Eastern Europe because I am Polish by heritage and while I may not know the full history of Poland, I know its people. The people that helped raise my family on Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kan. are the same people who are welcoming tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees with, quite literally, open arms and open homes. It comes as no surprise if you’ve spent any time on “the hill” in KCK, sipped a drink at Frank’s or been to the Polski Day parade. I’ve seen videos on CNN and Fox News of Poles helping these refugees with blankets, housing, and, I’d imagine a shot of krupnik.
If you’re like me, you are seeing that same spirit and spunk in the Ukrainian people as well. The spirit to frustrate what should’ve been a slam dunk invasion by Russian President Vladimir Putin has been entirely drawn out and, in some cases, turned away by Ukrainians. The rest of the world has taken notice through social media videos and posts and pledged their support as well.
This Ukrainian spirit has captured the heart of the world as they defend the invaders with homemade bombs, guns, and rocket launchers. There have been reports of columns of Russian soldiers being turned away after engaging Ukrainian citizens who talk reason to the kids that make up the Russian army. Even Russian citizens have noticed taking to their streets under heavy threat of arrest to protest Putin’s war.
But the single best example of this Ukrainian and Eastern Europe spirit is the story of Snake Island or by proper name, Zmiinyi Island. The border-defining small island in the Black Sea has a population around 100 under normal circumstances. Last week, as a Russian warship cozied up to its docks en route to the mainland, it had a population of 13. These 13 were Ukrainian servicemen and women serving their duty as an early detection team as reports an impending invasion grew louder.
Now, after a long life of going to some Polish weddings, funerals, and parties, I feel that I’m fairly well acquainted with the so-called “spirit” that I’m about to explain. Eastern Europeans are, quite simply, tough as nails. They are made of piss and vinegar and you’ll never hear a peep of complaining from them. I wished I had more than just an ounce of that spirit in me today.
As these warships descended on this tiny island, the ships came on the radio to the outpost ordering them to surrender. True to their spirit, and in the face of what would be certain death from a single shot from that warship, the Snake Island microphone was keyed and gave the Russians the only response that encapsulates the Ukrainian spirit on display now.
“Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”
That’s really the only story you need to know about this war and the people that it is brutally invading. Vladimir Putin, go fuck yourself.
(Chris Kamler has a way with words and he’ll show you on Twitter, where he is @TheFakeNed)