I am an 81-year-old war orphan. My father was killed in late 1944 and shares a burial ground with Gen. George Patton. I was too young to remember my father or to sense his loss. But those around me had their lives dramatically altered.

Because of this, my life and thoughts were different from my classmates’. Initially I wondered how any person could be so cruel as to shoot my father. Later on, I became puzzled how an entire country could allow the execution of millions of its citizens purely because of their religion. By middle age, I became able to tolerate my puzzlement by convincing myself that most of the world had come to understand that we could not allow such a recurrence. As someone who believes in the basic goodness of humanity, this has seemed logical to me.

I’m sad to admit that more recent events have forced me to reconsider some of my basic thoughts.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has produced echoes of the events that preceded World War II. The threats of the Congress to stop military support for this besieged country seem eerily similar to comments of members of Congress before that last great war. Have we not learned the lessons of war and the need to strongly stand against unprovoked aggression, baseless cruelty and illogical nationalism at the earliest opportunity? Are our leaders ignoring history, or are they not aware of past errors?

I have recently developed a friendship with a well-known Ukrainian classical guitarist, Marko. Although we have not personally met, we have had multiple conversations through the internet. I will meet him following his concert in Washington, D.C., in January. Last month, he asked me to be a judge of a classical guitar competition in his country through a Zoom-like connection.

There were 31 participants, all Ukrainian children between the ages of 4 and 18. His goal was to help these children experience the joy of music at a time of national chaos. The talent and creativity of these children was awe-inspiring.

Following the competition, Marko sent me a long email thanking me for my participation. What was heartrending for me were his descriptions of the experiences of some of the children to whom I had been listening. One 15-year old girl, living in Bakhmut, had been forced to leave her home without her guitar to live with family in western Ukraine. Another very talented teenage boy was forced to leave an area near a large nuclear reactor after his father had been killed as a result of the war.

Language and history aside, Ukraine has become a successful society that is similar to our own. The people of Ukraine care deeply for their children’s lives. The result of U.S. inaction will produce more war orphans and emotionally damaged children. This is currently happening in Ukraine. Shortsighted decisions could result in the same result in our country. Members of Congress need to know how we feel. Please write to them.

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