Joseph Sabino Mistick: sacrifice and support Ukraine

It was one of those little surprises, a card sent to the office by a friend overseas at the height of the pandemic, which only reached me months later because we were all still working from home. . It was from Simon Kale of Bath, England, a keen observer of American politics and a stamp collector.

Using his own stamps and some from his mother-in-law Jean’s collection, Simon created a collage of vintage stamps for his American friend. He calls it “Stars & Stripes,” an assemblage of 28 American stamps, a reminder of the price of freedom that people everywhere have paid.

Many stamps were issued when Americans stood side by side with other freedom-loving peoples to fight a common enemy—times when we knew wars were won on the battlefields and at home. There are Statue of Liberty stamps and others that honor Washington, Lincoln and FDR.

It is better that I received it late rather than when it was originally sent because it now symbolizes the people of Ukraine and their freedom fighters. And it reminds us that, while there is no greater sacrifice than dying for freedom, war anywhere can make things harder everywhere, even far from the battlefield.

Gas, energy and food prices are soaring here, increasing the cost of living for everyone. In a perfect world, those who are better off would feel the sting more than the needy, but the world is not perfect. And, for now, these shared sacrifices are the best we can do to support Ukrainians.

Across Europe, where they thought they were done with tyrants after World War II, our NATO allies wonder if they will be next. So far they have united against Putin, a remarkable alliance, especially for countries dependent on Russian fuel and grain.

We know how to do this. During World Wars I and II, savings drives and victory gardens became national policy, and Americans saved and invested in war bonds. Ration cards were needed for the meager shares of gasoline, meat, coffee, milk, fuel, oil, and shoes—supplies best diverted to our soldiers.

Trade disruptions have created shortages of cars, bicycles and tires. The young boys and wives of the soldiers filled the jobs left vacant in the mills and factories, changing the direction of their lives forever.

Since 1973, when the United States ended the draft, a small number of young American volunteers have made the greatest sacrifices. It has made it easy for us to forget our duty to sacrifice what we can at home in the name of freedom.

But Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has put us back on track somewhat. Just last week, when nothing seemed big enough to assuage our bitter national political divisions, the House of Representatives and Senate voted — on an entirely bipartisan basis — to pass a massive spending bill that includes $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine.

We will sacrifice all we can for Ukraine. And many of us will follow the advice on the 13-cent US Bicentennial stamp that appears in the lower right corner of the collage. There, it is written: “Pray for peace”. And we will remember that we stand for something.

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