I visited the Soviet Union.
The Cold War nation possessed
most of the traits you read about —
strange clicks when picking up a phone,
tour guides employed by government agencies,
limited ability to explore,
regular searches of bags, and
randomized interviews during travel between cities.
A couple in our group went off one afternoon
to visit an old synagogue without permission.
When boarding the flight to leave the USSR,
the couple was pulled and interviewed for hours
while the rest of us waited and worried on the plane.
My family lost loved ones
in both Kyiv and Minsk
during World War II.
Visiting these cities felt sacred.
But, what I remember most was the people.
Warm, curious, kind.
I left Kyiv in awe
of the men, women and children.
Today I remain in awe
of the citizens of Ukraine
whose battle started centuries ago.
It is time the rest of us
stood up with them.