Peering Through the Fog

Dearest Rachel –

I promise to keep comments on current events to a relative minimum going forward, but right now, that’s most of what’s going on. This is bigger than much of what we’ve dealt with personally throughout our lives: to not address what’s happening, even though it’s on the other side of the world, would be to ignore the blitzkrieg in 1939 or some such.

After all, it’s not as if we shied away from the news when you were alive; during those last few years, as I was hoping to develop a YouTube channel, I would practice script reading to you and Daniel by reading the op-ed pages, complete with the sarcastic tones of the would-be H.L. Menkens I tended to follow (his quote about democracy – “the belief that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard” – has been thoroughly embraced by the same folks these past few years).

While I might rather talk about my dreams from last night, there isn’t much to relate – or more to the point, there’s too much. All I can remember are flashes of images, too fast to comprehend, as though I was Data from Star Trek reading through the entirety of the Encyclopedia Britannica online. Some images were of battlefields, some were of bedrooms. Very little of it made sense, when I could recognize any of it at all. So there’s no real point in trying.

Then again, that kind of sums up current events as they are. At the moment, my own personal life seems to be in the middle of a lull, just in time for the world at large to go mad. But this madness is in the midst of a muddle, and any observations I might make are no better than an attempt to peer through the fog of war. So I’m sure that some of these observations are completely off-base, or will be proven to be at some point in the near future. But at the moment, they are what they are.

Speaking of being off-base, I certainly hope that I’m not understanding correctly the things Daniel has been told by his prophets and pundits. I understand that our current masters in Washington have proven to be so untrustworthy that one might actually consider the word coming from the Kremlin to be more reliable. But to suggest that Putin is on the side of the angels is beyond a stretch, and every day – indeed, every hour – he seems less and less to be an agent of God’s judgement, save for the way Attila the Hun claimed to be ‘the Scourge of God.’ Bad enough that he’s attacking Ukraine, a decidedly smaller nation (even if he is worried that its joining NATO would post some sort of threat to Mother Russia); the man and his army has attacked vessels belonging to non-combatant nations, and gone so far as to threaten the likes of Sweden and Finland, warning them not to join NATO. I doubt that applying to join was even on their minds, but just the fact that he’s shaking his fist at them might be enough to make them consider the possibility.

Meanwhile, while it could easily be argued that Ukraine’s government is notoriously corrupt, that hardly seems worthy of being rolled over with Russian tanks (as if Russia’s skirts were clean when it comes to corruption). And for that matter, given certain rumors about our own leaders, and their dealings with Ukraine in the past, it’s possible they might be hoping that certain, ah, evidence might be destroyed in the chaos of war. Whatever old Vlad is doing, it’s not helping, at least in terms of serving justice.

And even if you would insist about the corruption within Ukraine, let’s talk about their president for a moment, shall we? I’ve only become aware of Volodymir Zelenski over the past few months, as the situation began to unfold. Apparently, he was famous as a comedian back in the day; this might be akin to Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel running the country. Which, when you think about it, might make us less of a joke, as it would be intentional for a change. Granted, those two appear to hate those of us in flyover country as much as anyone in the entertainment industry, so uniting the country in a time of crisis would be the last thing they’d want to do. We’d be in better hands under the likes of say, your beloved Craig Ferguson, except, having been born in Scotland, he wouldn’t be eligible to run this country. More’s the pity, as he appears to love it in a way that most of his colleagues don’t understand.

The thing is that, regardless of what you might say about whether he’s corrupt or not (and, in all fairness, whether he is any worse than anyone else that has run that country since 1992), you cannot deny the man’s bravery. Whereas the president of Afghanistan was on the first plane out when we evacuated troops (and failed to evacuate our people), President Zelenski has opted to stay and fight (stating “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Legendary), addressing his people (and the world) morning and evening. Last night, he warned them (and us) that it might be his last message. This morning, he sent a message stating, in effect, “We’re still here.” The man has effectively become the Ukrainian personification of our own Fort McHenry. He is still standing, and addressing his people, ‘at the dawns early light.’ How long that will last, remains to be seen. It is notable that his predecessor in office is also manning the barricades in Kiev, and when asked how long they could hold out, responded, “Forever.” If there is an equivalent word in Ukrainian for the Spanish term cojones (does кульки serve?), we need to start using it, because theirs are clearly bigger than the Spaniards (or ours, for that matter).

And while General Patton might not approve (his preference was to “make the other poor dumb b*****d die for his country”), there is a long-standing military tradition of defiance in the face of fatally impossible odds. Whether it’s the Old Guard at Waterloo (quoted at the time as saying “the Guard dies, but never surrenders,” but ultimately revealed to have been “Merde”), or Cmdr. McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne at the Battle of the Bulge (he was known as “Nuts” thereafter for his reply), demands for surrender are rarely met well. The story of the day is of a handful of guards stationed on a place that translates to ‘Snake Island,’ within sight of the Ukraine/Romania border at the mouth of the Danube. As the story goes, the island was approached by a Russian warship, and the guards instructed to surrender and stand down. Their reply? On mike, there was a muffled “Shall I tell them?” evidently a lower-level radio operator requesting permission from a superior to tell the Russians what he really thought. Said operator must have gotten permission, because their final message was along the line of “Russian warship, go…”

I won’t finish the sentence, as you can probably figure it out. As Hawkeye Pierce would say, the man had no understanding of anatomy. But he did know what would happen. The island was bombed, and the guards (all thirteen of them) wiped out. But they didn’t surrender.

Such are the tales that had made their way through the fog thus far. I know how I usually sign off, honey, but I suppose whatever luck you might wish me for now ought to go to these folks; whatever they’re dealing with is so much worse than what I am at the moment.

Talk to you later, sweetheart.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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