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You're reading: My Independence Day story: A Chicago awakening

I soon heard a car pull up in the alley adjacent to my building. It couldn’t have been a garbage truck because it was a Sunday. This was followed by a light tapping on the doorbell. I walked downstairs to see two buddies who had recently emigrated from Lviv, Zhenya and Roman, restlessly holding Ukraine’s flag in their hands. They lived in the neighborhood. But the only thing I had in common with them at the time was speaking their language and playing basketball or volleyball on Lake Michigan’s beaches.

“Let’s go, Ukraine is finally a country again!” they said excitedly in one breath, whisking me down the concrete steps outside. They could barely contain their joy.

Still somewhat confused, I freed myself from their grip to keep the door from locking itself closed. “What do you mean Ukraine is a free country?”

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