On the Fourth of July the United States of America celebrates its Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776. The War of Independence that ensued – which Americans call the Revolutionary War – lasted eight years (from 1775 to 1783) and set a seal, for better or worse, on the American psyche. Depending on how you count it, the US has been at war for more than 200 years of its 247-year existence.
For better or worse, America has developed a “ballistic” sensibility that often perplexes the rest of the world. It’s a country whose citizens may often strike outsiders as gun-worshippers. Its national anthem, a war song, exalts “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air.” For better or worse, the US launched itself into superpower status by becoming the only nation to drop nuclear bombs on populated cities.
Today, the US is feeding Ukraine with the lion’s share of its guns and missiles. And Ukrainians are immensely grateful for the support.
Today, Ukraine is fighting its own war of independence. Since 1654, more or less, Moscow has done its best to rule over Ukrainian lands. In 1991, when Ukraine officially declared its own independence, it seemed like a gift that had fallen from the sky. Even though more than 90 percent of the population voted for independence, very few had any concrete vision of what independence might look like.
For generations, centuries even, Russia had always been there deciding Ukrainian’s political fate. Most people on Ukrainian territory spoke Russian, many families were ethnically mixed. Independence struck a large portion of the population as merely a formality that had insinuated itself into the wake of the Soviet Union’s bankrupt system.
Since 1991, Ukraine has experienced several turning points that have helped crystalize what independence means.
In 2004 there was the Orange Revolution, a peaceful protest, which overturned fraudulent elections that had made a mockery of Ukraine’s democracy.
In 2013 Ukrainians took to the streets again to protest the president’s decision to renege on a promised turn to the West and move back toward Moscow’s sphere of influence, which was still very strong. The Revolution of Dignity led to war. Russia invaded, annexed Crimea illegally, and occupied and destroyed much of the Donbas.
After eight years of Ukrainian resistance and low-intensity war, Russia tried to complete its dream of forcing the whole of Ukraine back into its sphere of influence. First it sought to blackmail the US and its NATO allies, then it used America’s refusal as a thinly veiled pretext for a massive attack.
Many outside observers – including Americans – felt Kyiv was doomed. For Ukrainians, however, there was no turning back. The doors had slammed shut behind them, and they refused to be dragged back into Putin or Moscow’s clutches.
Thanks to American assistance – as well as those of its other allies – Ukraine has been able to defend its own democracy and independence. On behalf of Ukraine and Ukrainians, Kyiv Post would like to thank the US and all Americans for their stalwart support.
Ukraine’s aspirations to independence have always looked to Washington as a beacon. Indeed, as Ukraine’s national poet Taras Shevchenko asked, “When will we greet our own George Washington at last with the new law of righteousness?”
Despite its flaws, the US today represents more than ever that “new law of righteousness” for Ukrainians. It represents freedom, democracy and the will to fight for its independence.
And, having in the past accepted many Ukrainian refugees and emigrants, it has proved to be not only a source of inspiration but a true friend of Ukraine.
We salute you, the United States of Amerca, on this Fourth of July.
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