The editors of Persimmon Tree stand in awe of the courage and fortitude of the women, men, and children of Ukraine. We at Persimmon Tree all have stories that relate us to that beleaguered nation, as we are sure, you do as well. Here is one of them:
My grandfather was 16 years old in 1904 when he emigrated to America from Ukraine, escaping a pogrom and forced service in the Russian army – reasons that are probably very similar to what brought members of your family here as well. Our family myths (which may or may not have been entirely true) had it that, as soon as he could afford to, he started paying for his sisters and brothers to join him. The reality may have been that at least two sisters emigrated before he did and that at least a couple of his siblings stayed with their mother in their tiny Ukrainian farming village. In the 30s, my aunt Rose, a lifelong Communist, journeyed in the other direction, going to Ukraine to visit those aunts and uncles and cousins who’d stayed behind. At that time, it was, she remembered, a day’s journey from Kyiv, mostly by horse and cart. She did not mention the famine Stalin had caused, a vast hunger that killed thousands of Ukrainians. Not so many years after her visit, they were all exterminated by the Nazis, their bodies tossed in a common grave. Of course, had they lived, they probably would have died in Stalin’s purges in the 50s. Or, maybe there are still some living descendants in Ukraine, and maybe now, as I write, they are taking up arms to fight off the Russians yet again. I hope that, if you or I do still have family in Ukraine, they are either doing that or safely in Poland. The other possibilities are too, too sad to contemplate. – Jean Zorn, Publisher