The Americans asked: “Why should we help you?”. Notes from the USA

The Americans asked: “Why should we help you?”.  Notes from the USA

In April, journalist Yuriy Lukanov spent almost three weeks traveling to educational institutions in the United States, presenting there the English translation of his war prose “Reporter Volkovsky”. He shared his impressions of the trips with the readers of “UP. Life”

The village of Hillsboro in the state of Virginia welcomed us with the word “HOPE” carved out of a tree and painted in Ukrainian colors. And further down the road there are also many Ukrainian flags by the road. This settlement is located about an hour’s drive from Washington.

What it is? Why that? Maybe Ukrainians live here and thus demonstrate solidarity with the homeland of their ancestors? Are there any other motives?

My good friend Yuriy Yankovskyi and I were very pleasantly surprised, but we could only guess what it was. We decided to find out on the way back. On the way back, we stopped to have lunch at the local shop-restaurant “Food market”. Food, spices, wines, preserves, etc., simply from farmers, were sold there. The institution had an ancient flavor. The same ancient and colorful man at the counter told us that they do not work on Saturdays, observing Jewish customs. What surprised me a lot, because I, being a dark person, believed that such a thing existed only in Israel among the Hasids.

But he did not say anything about Ukrainian colors and advised to contact the city hall, which was located across the street. After eating, we went there. A tall, gray-haired, slender man was standing on the stairs. It turned out to be the mayor himself, Roger L. Vance.

I asked him why there are Ukrainian colors here, maybe Ukrainians live here or is there some other connection to Ukraine?

No. Just after the Russians started a wider aggression, said Mr. Vance, the residents of the town decided to show solidarity and help Ukraine – out of pure human kindness. They organized various fundraising events. In particular, a show in support of our country in the struggle for independence. According to him, they collected 30 thousand dollars.

He also added that thousands of cars pass by their village every day, and Ukrainian flags remind them of what is happening in Ukraine now.

When I heard that people who had never heard of or known about our country suddenly showed such solidarity with it, it moved me almost to tears. Yuri Yankovsky had several copies of my book in the English translation “Reporter Volkovsky” in the car, for the presentation of which I actually came to the USA. I presented my book to the mayor and all the residents of the town. It seems to me that our gratitude should be simply boundless. After all, it was not initiated by politicians, who may have some calculation, but ordinary citizens. They could not do that.

Mayor Roger Vance paints the word HOPE in Ukrainian colors

The mayor gave me a postcard with a caricature of the Kremlin, who started this bloody massacre. This postcard was issued specifically for the event in support of Ukraine. The town or village he governs, according to the English-language Wikipedia, has 196 inhabitants, 28 families and 39 households.

We exchanged business cards with the mayor and he later sent me photos where he personally paints the word “HOPE” in our national colors.

During the trip to the USA, I did not wear anything that would immediately give me a Ukrainian. That’s why I didn’t see crowds of people wanting to chat with me about Ukraine. But still, I managed to feel the mood of the Americans.

Signs of support for Ukraine can be found everywhere and often in unexpected places. The Ukrainian flag is flying near some authority. Then in the embassy quarter of Washington, I suddenly saw the Statue of Liberty wrapped in the Ukrainian flag. Of course, the statue is small. She stands in front of the French embassy. It serves as a reminder that it was France that gave the once large statue to the United States.

I don’t forget that French President Macron did not always take a pro-Ukrainian position, he even tried to solve the issue at the expense of Ukraine, but the very fact of such support from his country’s embassy still evokes pleasant emotions.

In the New York area of ​​Brighton Beach, where people from the former USSR live, I saw a fence painted in our colors, and our flags on the balconies.

At a hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during breakfast, a man, having probably heard my accent, asked where I was from. And he started asking me if I had lost the house. I explained that I live in the capital of Ukraine, which is more or less safe now, and told the purpose of my trip to the USA. He said that he would be very happy to hear the opinion of a person from the scene of the events. I told him a little. He listened sympathetically and clearly with affection for me.

Something similar happened on the train from Philadelphia to Washington, when I was returning from a book presentation at Menor College to the capital of the United States. The guide took it upon herself to help me join the free Wi-Fi network, saw that I had Cyrillic on my phone, and found out that I was Ukrainian. She questioned me sympathetically, asked if I needed any help and wished me success in this war. It was very touching.

The author during the presentation of the book “Reporter Wolkovsky” at Texas A&M University with Defiance Press owner Dave

When I arrived at the White House, I saw a chain of people in front of its gate, some of whom were dressed in embroidered dresses, and all of them had Ukrainian flags in their hands or blue-yellow clothes. Of course, there were ethnic Ukrainian activists there. Nadiya Shaporynska, a former resident of Dnipro, told me that the public organization US-Ukrainian activists is conducting a continuous campaign.

But the most exciting thing is that Americans who have nothing to do with Ukraine take part in the actions. For example, Robert Harvey stood with a peculiar mix of Ukrainian and American flags. He said that his mother comes from East Germany and he knows firsthand about the horrors of the communist regime that was established there by the USSR, whose heir is modern Russia. That is why he joined the action, back in April of last year, because he considers the actions of the Russians in Ukraine to be genocide of the Ukrainian people. And he is not the only American there.

My book was published by Defiance Press, Texas. Now hold on to the chair. Its owner, Dave Roberts, and other employees, as it turns out, are ardent Trump supporters.

Perhaps you immediately transferred to them the image of Trump portrayed in the media, who loves Russia, Putin and wants to put Ukraine under their control. But somehow the publication of my openly anti-Russian, anti-chauvinist book is not at all associated with such an image. Is not it? Especially since they had to not only publish the book, but also pay for the translation. That is, it cost the publishing house more than if it had published an English-speaking author.

I would say that life is not only different than the media portrays it, but also much more complicated. Favoring Trump does not automatically mean favoring Russia. Americans, although they remember the Russian-Ukrainian war, live with their own problems. The project manager of the publishing house, Cassandra Spencer, spoke very sympathetically about Ukraine and wished us success, but at the same time said that financing Ukraine was too expensive for the Americans. Therefore, she is in favor of ending the war as soon as possible.

Her boss, Dave Roberts, asked me if Trump, once in power, would be able to stop the war. Probably, this was a response to clearly pre-election promises to stop the war in 24 hours by putting Zelensky and Putin at the negotiating table. Dave clearly read the same context: the Americans are spending too much on this war.

At North Carolina’s Elon University, I did interviews for student television. The young journalist Margaret Faust seems to have forgotten to ask the discussed question in advance, and her supervisor (either the dean or just a professor) specifically asked at the end: why should we help you? Perhaps it was worded differently, but the essence was exactly that. Then, during the presentation, professors and university students asked me about the same thing.

Participants of the permanent action near the White House sing the Ukrainian national anthem

I think that the question of the feasibility of aid worries many in the United States. Many want to stop this carnage so that no lives are lost and the United States does not have to spend taxpayer dollars on military needs overseas.

I literally explained to all of them why ending the war without a victory for Ukraine does not meet the interests of the United States. If in two words and simplified, then my arguments were reduced to the following.

Stopping the war without releasing Ukrainian territories from the occupiers will inspire dictatorial regimes everywhere on the planet. Then there will be Taiwan from China, Iran and North Korea will become more active, some regimes in Africa will also be happy. And then so many conflicts will break out in the world that they will not be able to affect the USA. And Washington will have to intervene, but then this intervention will cost it much more.

My observations do not pretend to be sociologically accurate. This is only a subjective experience. It might be different if I were talking to a different audience. But still, he conveys some moods of the Americans. The Americans convinced me of one thing: we need to look for every opportunity to voice the Ukrainian agenda, to convey our point of view to the Western world. Without such work, we run the risk of once again being an object, rather than a subject, of international politics.

Yuriy Lukanov,columnist, specially for UP.Zhyttya

Publications in the “View” section are not editorial articles and reflect exclusively the author’s point of view.

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