top of page

As Ukraine Suffers, We Can't Look Away

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

Apocalyptic evil incarnate

unleashed on innocent civilians.

Cluster bombs, drone strikes, nuclear threats.

Ukraine’s dogged determination

to thwart

Putin’s vile slaughter and

debunk his hideous lies

is of myth-making proportion.

We’re tuned into

heartbreaking real-time horror.

Bearing witness to the unthinkable.

TikTok aficionados

upload raw footage

with ferocious, armed determination.

President Zelensky

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky,

a worldwide hero

of Shakespearian dimension,

epitomizes passionate righteousness

in the face of tyranny.

Putin is a repulsive war criminal

whose sociopathic megalomania

recalls his biggest American fan,

the former disgraced American president.

NATO allies know what’s at stake,

as do all freedom-loving nations and citizenry.

Echoes of 1939 and 1989

haunt the airwaves,

relentless news of totalitarian brutality.

Shocking footage of bloodied children

pierce our collective conscience.

Cancer patients are being treated

in the Kyiv Hospital basement.

Some 1.3 million refugees

have sought sanctuary

in Poland, Hungary, Moldavia and Romania.

Half a million are children.

Will global demonstrations

and economic sanctions

affect a desperate despot?

A forbidden pro-Ukrainian rally

in Tbilisi, Georgia

attracted thousands.

Americans are wearing

Ukrainian colors in solidarity.

New York City landmarks

light up at night

with the embattled nation’s hues.

How do we comprehend

the unfolding atrocities?

Who isn’t gutted by Putin’s inhumanity to man?

This “teachable moment”

isn’t easily taught or explained

when there are no words.

The Russian dictator’s

willingness to invoke nuclear weapons

by attacking

a power plant is terrifying.

Experts say ‘contained’ reactors

at Zaporizhzhia,

the largest nuclear power plant in Europe,

shouldn’t explode

like the April 26, 1986 disaster in Chernobyl

Small comfort.

That’s the good news.

Here comes the bad:

Damage to its cooling system

may simulate 2011’s Fukushima accident.

The former Soviet republic

has 15 nuclear reactors,

This military conflict

is the first in European history

to play out on such dangerous ground.

Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster,

shattered the world stage.

That memory is still vivid.

At the time, my daughter was a preschooler

in Long Island’s Northport Nursery School.

Emmy attended morning sessions.

Cooperative parents pitched in there,

from assisting teachers to bathroom cleanup.

Kids learned how to share and care

about their classmates

in a warm, encouraging environment

of cooperative learning.

I was carpooling with another

three-year-old’s mom in Emmy’s class

when we heard the horrific Chernobyl news.

Stunned, we took comfort

in our shared panic.

Our kids played together that afternoon,

serenely innocent.

We talked about nuclear fallout

and stressed out

over our children’s

inheritance of a world on life support.

Dazed, we worried realistically

about living on an island

where the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant

had been inexplicably constructed.

We imagined the chaos

that would follow an emergency evacuation

should the unthinkable happen.

If you’ve never driven

through Nassau and Suffolk counties,

picture bumper-to-bumper traffic

on a typical commuter’s day.

Miraculously, the plant never opened.

In 1994, it was fully decommissioned,

which made the nuclear reactor inoperative.

Most of the $6 billion cost of the unused plant

was passed on to Long Island residents.

Chernobyl’s meltdown was

the worst in history,

both in casualties and cost.

It wasn’t military action

that threatened the world

that cruel April month.

It was human error.

Putin’s annihilation playbook is intentional.

Staff at the Ukrainian power plant

warned that Russian troops

were laying down explosives.

Ukraine’s 44-year-old President Zelensky,

who is Jewish,

remained defiant.

“I don’t want Ukraine’s history

to be a legend about 300 Spartans, he said.

I want peace,”

The Russian people are not our enemies,

he added, just the demented president.

Putin’s self-proclaimed ceasefire

is another lie,

as evidenced by

launched air and military attacks.

How can we support

President Zelensky’s Herculean leadership

during these horrifically unprecedented times?

Maybe by continuing public demonstrations,

making donations to vetted charities

and supporting independent,

truth-disseminating journalists

who are putting themselves

on the front lines of history.


Janis and the author at Effy's Cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan

Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including

bottom of page