In the midst of tragedy, the everyday heroes in Ukraine are moving people around the world

Ukrainian flag.

The world watched, holding its collective breath as Russia threatened to invade Ukraine. For weeks, as Russia teased the sovereign nation with military exercises along the country’s border and the soldiers moved tanks this way and that, we saw Ukrainians preparing to defend their land. Citizens practiced aiming with guns made out of wood, while others learned to properly use knives in hand-to-hand combat. The citizens of Ukraine had no intention of allowing their country to be overtaken, and now, in the midst of the invasion, we get to see Ukrainians show who they really are.

People have fled to safety but many have stayed behind to fight, some you wouldn’t expect. A former beauty queen, Anastasia Lenna, Miss Grand Ukraine 2015, revealed on her Instagram account that she traded in her crown and sash for military fatigues and an automatic rifle. In one of her posts, she writes “everyone who crosses the Ukrainian border with the intent to invade will be killed.” Lenna's Instagram stories have been filled with calls to action, including praise for the men and women fighting to protect their country.



An 80-year-old man showed up to join the Ukrainian army carrying only a small overnight bag that contained two T-shirts, an extra pair of pants, a toothbrush and a few sandwiches for lunch. He was joining for his grandkids, he said. Another elderly person stood in front of a Russian soldier to confront him about why he was in Ukraine. The woman called the soldiers occupants and fascists, before offering the soldier sunflower seeds, stating "take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you die here." Sunflowers are Ukraine's national flower.

While bombs are dropping, shots are being fired and sirens blare in Ukraine, nurses and doctors are caring for NICU babies in a makeshift bomb shelter. The babies, some of which look only hours old, were from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Dnipro in Eastern Ukraine. Some of them were having oxygen hand-pumped into their lungs by the nurses who were attending to them. The infants were taken to the bomb shelter as Dnipro was struck by missiles.

Ukrainian athletes are showing up to defend their motherland. Vlodymyr Bezsonov, a 63-year-old football legend, took up arms to defend Ukraine from Russia. In a short video, he explains that he’s joining his country’s fight. Two heavyweight boxing champions, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, both multimillionaires with the means to escape, stayed behind to fight alongside their fellow Ukrainians. Vitali, who is the mayor of Kyiv and the son of a former general in the Soviet Air Force, told "Good Morning Britain," “I don’t have another choice, I have to do that.”

Stories such as these are not limited to the handful here. There are stories of everyday heroes taking up arms, helping their fellow Ukrainians through whatever means necessary, occurring throughout the war-torn days and nights. Ukraine never had the idea to surrender, and the spirit of their people is no less than inspiring.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less