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In the meadow, a red kalyna has bent low...

By: Shannon Taft


   You can walk down almost any major city street in Lviv, and find symbols and trophies of defiance to the orcs at their Eastern door. Flags wave from many entryways and windows; missile remains feature new tree-growth through their core, with the symbolic red Kalyna painted on the missile nose; bullet-riddled pick-up trucks are on display in the major shopping malls, with donation boxes bolted to the hood; shell fragments and mortar casings adorn the outer path aside Potocki Palace. The cruller moments of their country’s history are not enshrined in an obscure museum–they are on display in the streets. They are visible, for free, every day to the people who live wondering if the next air raid alarm will bring them new trophies–or will it cut short their chance to see these existing trophies tomorrow? 

    When some locals were asked about their initial reactions to the invasion in February 2024, the replies had common sentiments: they were numb with shock. Whatever plans they had for that day, for that week–for their future years–were instantly dissolved after hearing the news of the invasion. “How do you plan life now? I don’t have any plans for the future…”--this was the reply of someone who left Kyiv for more security in Lviv. “I don’t think about love or relationships; it’s just survival on my mind when they attacked….” So said another Ukrainian who fled the dangers of the East.

    How do you plan your day in a country occupied by enemy soldiers? The air sirens blare 2-3 times every day. Many shops–and all the shopping mall centers–evacuate the building every time an alarm goes off. The banks do the same. Your plans are turned on their head–maybe the alarm will be over in 10 minutes. Maybe 3 hours.  The news feeds report on the casualties in neighboring cities that were hit with missiles and drones.  When the “All clear” sounds, everyone returns to their business to reclaim what productivity and meaning is left in the day.

    Resilience. Bravery. Determination–in it’s rawest form. The Ukrainians carry on with daily life despite the threat of missiles landing in their streets. They didn’t get a vote on if they would like to participate in building their individual and communal resilience, but they are stepping up to the challenge anyway. They meet that challenge with the good faith they will emerge the victors. What is the testament of that courage? A sapling grows through the defunct missile. What is the display of their hope? A praying Ukrainian girl in a field of red Kalynas is painted on the missile’s nose. What will carry their heritage from recently passed victories to future survival? Come walk down Ivano Franka street with me and see for yourself.

Oh, in the meadow a red kalyna has bent down low,

For some reason, our glorious Ukraine is in sorrow.

And we'll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up,

And, hey-hey, we shall cheer up our glorious Ukraine!...

Do not worry, glorious Ukraine, you have a free people….

Marching forward, our fellow volunteers, into a bloody fray,

For to free our brother Ukrainians from the Russian shackles.

And we, our brother Ukrainians, we will then liberate,

And, hey-hey, we shall cheer up our glorious Ukraine!


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