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Friday Slide Show: To Ukraine Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

26 August 2022

This week Ukraine celebrated its 31st independence day. But "celebrate" doesn't quite describe it. The country has been battling an invasion by Russia for six months, suffering the destruction of urban areas from Russian missiles where Russian ground troops failed to make inroads.

According to the Associated Press, at least 14,000 Russian soldiers have died in this unprovoked military aggression while 9,000 Ukrainians have died defending their freedom. According to the BBC, at least 12 million Ukrainians, mostly women, children and the elderly, have left the county while the men remained behind to fight the Russians.

Russia's reckless behavior has threatened nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It's morally indefensible missile attacks on civilians in their homes, their hospitals, their train stations, their theaters and their schools have destroyed entire Ukrainian cities. They have left their footprints on the mass graves of Ukrainian civilians in the cities they have overrun.

But after six months of war with Russia, Ukrainians are still able to celebrate their independence.

"During these six months, we changed history, changed the world and changed ourselves," President Volodymyr Zelinksy said in his independence day message. "A new nation emerged on Feb. 24 at 4 a.m. Not born, but reborn. A nation that didn't cry, didn't scream, didn't get scared. Didn't run away. Didn't give up. Didn't forget."

And then he added, "This flag will be everywhere it should be by right. Both in Donbas and in Crimea."

In San Francisco, we have a penchant for the political. We want to leave the world better than we found it. So we are not surprised to have seen small private demonstrations of support for Ukraine pop up here and there.

We've posted a few already. A flag flying from a pair of flats. A swing painted in Ukrainian freedom blue and energizing yellow.

But even in our own unimposing neighborhood there are a number of homes sprouting small Ukrainian flags. We've been photographing them on our daily walks and thought the 31st independence day would be a good occasion to show them here.

They are not grand gestures nor are they very dramatic. They are usually nothing more than a small flag stapled to a stick of wood stuck in a flower pot in the front of someone's house.

But there are a lot of them.

And while few driving by may notice, they form a sort of chorus that sings a wordless anthem not for glory but for justice.

That chorus has become thunderous as the war goes on.

You can even see it move the wind to lift the tattered threads of these small Ukrainian flags in the decorative flower pots on the streets of a quiet San Francisco neighborhood.

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