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You're reading: My Independence Day story: The meaning of patriotism

I do not understand why some hate their country so that much they are ready to eat their Ukrainian passport and swim across the Kerch Strait to live in Russia. Yet they stay, cursing at the powers and nurturing antipathy to the state language of Ukrainian.

When Ukraine’s independence came, I was 5. My parents often took our family to visit relatives in western Ukraine, where since childhood, I still remember the wise words of my grandfather: “Let’s build houses and gather the harvest in Ukraine. We belong to this land.”

My grandfather was born in Volyn Oblast in 1927 in western Ukraine. Despite his advanced age and despite the fact that he is almost blind, he remains the staunchest patriot in our family. But, after a lifetime of drilling oil wells, he is left with only a tiny pension and shaky health for all his hard work for the state.

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