By Steve Richards
Memorial Day is about commemorating our fallen American fighters. In this it seems an occasion to consider the Ukrainian soldiers that have died and are dying each day. American soldiers are fighting alongside them. In many ways, this is America’s war as well.
So, it seems fitting to reach back to the days when the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord fought for the exact same reasons Ukrainians are fighting today. Liberty. Freedom.
Sounds sort of corny because we take it for granted here. We are taught in grade school about the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, etc. But for most of us that’s as far as it goes. History books and movies.
Ukraine is a real-life reminder of what our forefathers died for on Lexington Green in 1775. Love of freedom is a universal human sentiment that Phillis Wheatly spoke of when she wrote in 1774:
Of course, Phillis was a slave, a Boston slave, so she spoke from a point of view far different than those first Americans that died for their country on the Green. But the sentiment is the same. It’s in our DNA apparently. And it certainly is present in all that I met on my trek to Bucha and comes through in every interview.
The people dying and fighting and surviving in Ukraine are just like us in their love of freedom and their willingness to die for it. It’s not complicated. Turns out phrases like ‘Live Free or Die’, ‘Freedoms not Free’, and ‘Russian warship, go fuck yourself!’ are all born of the same zeal for freedom and the willingness to die for it.
When I get involved in a project like Trek to Bucha, I have a mind to do something that is too big for me to have much of an impact. The War in Ukraine is just this kind of quixotic endeavor. What can one guy do? Not much. But one guy with a camera and the ability to produce an engaging documentary? Well, that’s a force multiplier. Because the uniquely powerful footage I shot has the potential to move millions given the worldwide interest in the war and awareness of what happened in Bucha. We have the potential to improve the situation in Ukraine, and ourselves. Because what is happening in Ukraine directly affects us throughout the world.
I came away from my month in Ukraine with a deep appreciation that its citizens will need more than just guns and ammunition. They will need loans to rebuild their homes and help rebuilding their economy. The people of Ukraine are not just fighting for their freedom. Through hard work, love of family and home, the rule of law, and liberty, they are fighting for the fruits of democracy and laissez-faire capitalism. Our film and other TheoEco efforts will hopefully influence policy that will further these goals.
Lastly, all of those I interviewed echoed the sentiment of thanks for our support of Ukraine and for bringing awareness of what’s happening there. Perhaps in the end, this is the greatest impact this film can have, to pass their message along. But I hope the film will help Ukraine strengthen and in so doing push back against Putin’s threat to so much of what we hold dear.
Hopefully, this film can engage the sentiments of viewers to continue supporting Ukraine in its struggles against Putin’s Russia.
Think of Ukraine’s soldiers and citizens this Memorial Day. Think of them and their cause and what our forefathers had to suffer through beginning in our struggle against a seemingly overwhelming armed force in 1775 when paying a bit more at the pump. And as we commemorate centuries of heroes in America, God bless our Ukrainian brothers in arms dying for our freedoms as well.