Many Ukrainian immigrants in Europe and elsewhere are returning to their homeland to fight.
Nobody is forcing them. They do not have the required training. And yet, they are returning. And they are returning at a time when the UN estimates that about half-a-million Ukrainians – the vast majority of whom are women and children – are leaving the country.
“I would love not to fight, and be alive, but this is the time where if I want to be able to look myself in the mirror, I have to, have to go,” one of them told the Washington Post, adding, “otherwise, I will live in my own personal hell in my head.”
Immigrants, regardless of our country of origin, have a lot in common. One of them is that we are incurably patriots. Not that we do not love and are not grateful to our second homeland. But we are happy to die, if necessary, for the land of our birth.
In the past, many of our immigrants did the same as the Ukrainians are doing, especially during the Balkan Wars.
Immigration to the United States had erupted in the early years of the 20th century and although the Greek immigrants were not yet well-established and secure, they left their jobs, their responsibilities – and despite being untrained – they were squeezed into the ships of the time by the hundreds if not thousands, hugging each other, singing the National Anthem and sailing for Greece.
Plenty of them were killed fighting. Others, because they decided to or because transportation from Greece had been cut off, remained there. Others returned to America full of pride and joy that they did their duty to their homeland.
They passed on to their children and grandchildren the longing for the country that brought them to the front lines of the war in Greece. The hardships, the sacrifices they made. And they instructed them never to forget their origin, their language, their religion.
This epic of the Greeks of that era is not well known. But there is a very good book titled The Forgotten Heroes of the Balkan Wars: Greek-Americans and Philhellenes 1912-1913. Paperback, August 9, 2020 by Peter S. Giakoumis (he is also a contributor to our English edition).
It is worth reading this story that is not as well-known as it should be.