The news out of Ukraine becomes grimmer by the day as Russian missiles pound cities and towns. Kyiv. Kharkiv. Odessa. Dnipro. Mariupol. Donestk. Kherson. Mykolaiv. Voznesensk.
We are now on Day 24 of war. Or is it Day 25? A little over three weeks ago Ukrainians were still living their normal lives – work, school, church, soccer, ballet, opera.
As the bombs drop, casualties grow. There is widespread destruction with some areas facing mass graves, no food, no water, no heat at a time when temps are sub-freezing (some sub-zero) with snow. The toll on Ukrainian civilians is growing into the thousands. Among the casualties are children.
Each day brings more video – injured children, dying children, dead children, and children buried in mass graves. The number of deaths and injuries of the most innocent in all of this is increasing. News coverage shows heartbreaking images of mourning parents, grandparents, doctors.
In Kyiv, rows of empty baby carriages were lined up in a town square to signify the dead children. Addressing members of the U.S. Congress Wednesday, President Zelensky noted sadly, “Now I’m almost 45 years old. Today my age stopped when the heart of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths.”
At some point my mind flashed back to the 1980s and the first line in the video, “We Are the World,” a vehicle used to raise money to feed the hungry in Africa: “We are the world, we are the children.”
At Clarksville Elementary School in Indiana, students recorded the tune last year and it now seems very appropriate at this time of war as the world nervously watches Russian forces bomb the hell out of Ukraine, killing innocent victims – young and old, alike.
Sit back for five minutes and listen to these talented kids because, as the saying goes, from the mouths of babes….
Famine in Africa, war in Ukraine … Americans have always been generous, and it’s going to be a long haul during this latest assault on civility and peace.
Listening to the students at Clarksville Elementary sent me down memory lane so I then pulled up the original “We Are the World” video with the original cast of top vocalists from 1985.
Go ahead … take a listen and see how many of these artists you remember.
Just as the musicians raised over $100 million for the African famine, today Ukraine needs our help. My husband and I have been making donations to World Central Kitchen because we like the way they are first on the ground for disasters and the way they work with local resources wherever they are for whatever disaster. WKC are in numerous locations around Ukraine and neighboring areas as well as delivering meals and food into the country where it’s needed including Kyiv, Kharkiv, and today they were sending food to Odessa.
There’s also the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and many religious organizations helping Ukraine.
While we’re at it, that brings to mind a song from the 1960s, that violent decade that the 2020s appear to be trying to emulate….
And from 1971 as the world escaped from the 1960s and hoped for peace and love comes “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)”….
Which of course reminded of Hands Across America.
On May 25, 1986, for 15 minutes at 3:00pm, Americans from the Atlantic to the Pacific formed a human chair, hand to hand, for “Hands Across America” – a plea for us to come together as a country, and to raise money to help in the battle for domestic hunger and the homeless – that was joined by President and Mrs. Reagan at the White House.
My husband and I traveled from RVA to our appointed location in northwest Washington, D.C., standing in front of Vice President George H.W. Bush’s residence on Massachusetts Avenue and clasping hands with hundreds along Embassy Row. My sisters, living in Colorado, joined the human chain in the middle of the country. The journalist sister covered it from Tucumcari, N.M., for the Washington Post, describing the efforts in sparse populations of the country to keep the chain unbroken.
At 3pm EST everyone across the land “We Are the World,” “Hands Across America,” and ended with “America the Beautiful.”
America. Generous with all we have, and willing to share with the world and those less fortunate. There is yet anothe wave of that generosity we’ve seen throughout the years going on now as Ukraine continues to suffer death and destruction, both from the U.S. government and from U.S. citizens.
Sadly, we seem to be slipping backward and repeating history that some have already lived through. Where is the off exit to repeating the 1960s….?