Today marks Independence Day in Ukraine, a celebration of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. But the celebration takes on a whole new meaning this year as Ukraine also marks six months of war with Russia. And yet even in the thick of war, Ukrainians are finding peace and rest through travel.
A Travel Break In Ukraine In The Midst Of War
Many hold a misplaced conception that war means total war, as if there is fighting on every street and every corner. That has never been the case in Ukraine or just about any conflict over the last hundred years. Indeed, life goes on as normal in much of Ukraine, even with the existential threat of a massive invading force sometimes just miles away.
As Ukrainians reflect upon Independence Day and the doldrums of war, some soldiers are taking a well-earned break…and they don’t even have to go far. Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times recently wrote a heartwarming story about how the Tylihul Estuary has become a popular getaway for weary Ukrainian families.
The Tylihul Estuary is less than 50 miles from the front lines, but a whole different world, a world with the tranquil sounds of waves, soft sand, and oysters. It’s one of the few areas along the Black Sea coast that is not mined and has become a popular getaway area.
The oysters are a particular draw. Early on in the war, Ukrainian soldiers repelled Russian advances which threatened to take over this area, including the oyster farm of Andre Pigulevsky. In appreciation, Pigulevsky allows all soldiers and their families to enjoy unlimited oysters at no cost. He told Schwirtz:
“The purpose of this place is to have a few hours rest to feel like it is peacetime.”
It’s an amazing story of human resiliency. Trees are still being trimmed, windows still being washed, and coffee shops still serving espresso across Ukraine, even in areas under constant threat of Russian bombardment. Yet the battle beckons. Soldiers who might enjoy a few hours at the beach must return to their regiments and face the sort of extreme risk that many of us cannot even fathom.
Even in war, humans still need travel…we need vacation…we need rest. On this Independence Day in Ukraine, I pray that the stalemate would turn into victory and that Putin would be further humiliated and eventually be defeated for his unmerited and reckless invasion of a sovereign nation.