I will never forget turning 13 and watching President John F. Kennedy on television during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
My whole family was watching when the president told us that a nuclear war with Russia could be imminent.
I was terrified, especially since my parents were leaving for a golf trip the next day and I was left in charge of my younger brothers and sister.
I tried to be calm and brave like President Kennedy so that my siblings wouldn’t be upset. It was very hard.
When the threat was over and my parents returned home, I read President Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage”. I was so inspired by these stories of brave politicians standing up for their principles that I started reading the two newspapers (one liberal, one conservative) and news magazines that came to our house to try to better understand politics, economics, etc.
But over the next several decades, it sadly seemed that real courage was often in short supply-especially in politics-until now.
PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY AND THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE
President Volodymyr Zelensky is a 44 year old former actor and comedian, who is now the sixth and current president of Ukraine. President Zelenskyy grew up as a native Russian speaker in Kryvyi Rih, a major city in central Ukraine. He is Jewish and married with three children.
In 2015, he played the lead in the tv series “Servant of the People”, a satire about an ordinary history teacher who is caught on camera ranting about his country’s rampant corruption and cynicism and surprisingly becomes the president of Ukraine.
His characterization of the honest and dedicated teacher-turned-politician amazingly resulted in Mr. Zelensky’s own election to president of Ukraine in 2019 in a landslide. (Subtitled episodes of his show “Servant of the People” are available on YouTube.)
Then, when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, President Zelensky became the face-and heart-of the beleaguered country of Ukraine.
In an interview just after the Russian invasion began and he was offered help to safely get out of the country, President Zelensky famously said “I don’t need a ride [out of the country]. I need more ammunition.”
Instead of hiding from the Russian attacks and by using social media videos, President Zelensky went out into the streets to show that he was with his people despite the personal danger to himself. He also called for the US and other countries to help him and his people fight the unprovoked Russian invasion.
So far, President Zelensky has survived 3 assassination attempts to continue communicating with his people and the world. On March 8, he addressed the UK Parliament by video and spoke emotionally about his country’s attempt to stop the Russian invasion and how the Ukrainian citizens have rebelled against the Russian forces. President Zelenskyy received a standing ovation from the UK parliament with many members wearing pins with the Ukrainian flag colors.
Despite overwhelming odds, the Ukrainian people have been able to survive and fight back for weeks so far.
Many other countries have now sent reporters to Ukraine where they have chronicled both the atrocities of the Russians and the bravery, kindness, and resolve of the Ukrainians trying to save their country.
Like many other people, I have been riveted while watching this new war on tv and seeing the terrible suffering of the Ukrainian people. It is heartbreaking to watch.
But what has surprised and inspired me is the conduct of President Zelensky and his people.
Despite the terrible hardships and suffering, President Zelenskyy and his people have shown tremendous resolve and determination not to respond with anger or with the same cruelty that they receive. They just ask to live in peace in their own country.
The news videos of caring citizens helping the elderly, mothers with small children, the wounded, etc. to get food, water, and medical care as they try to escape to a safe country are unforgettable.
President Zelensky continues to be composed but emphatic about what he and his people need to survive and save their homeland.
Those of us who can help through prayers, donations through organizations like the Red Cross, etc. should do so.
No one yet knows what the final result of this terrible invasion will be but the we should never forget the bravery and dedication of Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy and his people.
I know I won’t.