What Next After Tears And Standing Ovation For President Zelensky In War-Time Speech To Congress?

It was something our nation has not seen in a very long time. A powerful, moving, emotional, and dramatic presentation about the need for good to overcome evil in this world.

This morning Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a most unusual and need I say rare wartime virtual speech urged Congress to stand more fully with his nation. After giving his thanks for the support from the United States thus far, he spoke for military items that have been urged for on this blog in recent weeks as the Russian military pounds and kills in Ukraine.

Zelensky urged for aid so to help close the sky over his country to Moscow’s weapons, asked that his defiant and strong-willed nation be provided more effective surface-to-air defenses, and made it known all American companies should quit doing business in Russia at once.

His words could not have been more plain and direct.

“In the darkest time for our country, for the whole of Europe, I call on you to do more.”

The address was heard by the entire Congress on a large screen in a theater-style auditorium under the Capitol. With the gravity of the hour upon the shoulders of freedom-loving people worldwide, Zelensky stated “we need you right now.”

The powerful words and image of a brave Churchillian-type figure brought tears to the eyes of some lawmakers and a resounding standing ovation. He concluded his historic address by speaking in English.

“To be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”

It was an address loaded with precision about the United States and this moment in time. We absolutely need to be mindful of not only what he said, but who we are.

Our nation remains a world leader, as our mission is clear and our strength undeniable. Our might comes not only with military hardware and trained members of the services but also with a firm set of principles and ideals that have global appeal.

With a dictator invading, killing, threatening, and blustering on the world stage it then demands that the standard-bearers for democracy and freedom do the part that history demands. Our ideals call us to stand up. We simply need to intervene in a far more powerful and effective manner with this madness in Ukraine.

So what happens now after the members of Congress head back to their offices?

“My hope is that what comes out of today’s discussion with President Zelensky and all of us working together in a bipartisan basis is to tighten the sanctions immediately, is to provide more armaments that they actually need to defend themselves … and give them a fighting chance to protect themselves,” said Sen. Rob Portman who is the co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus. 

This blog stands with the use of the warplanes from Poland for use in Ukraine. The rather sad spectacle of the Biden Administration rebuffing Poland’s offer to send MiG-29 jets to Ukraine via a U.S. military base in Germany was not this nation’s finest moment over the past weeks. Referring to the planes Zelensky today said, “You know they exist. You have them, but they are on earth, not in the Ukrainian sky.”

After the address, Biden correctly announced new military assistance for Ukraine that will include anti-aircraft defenses, drones, and other weaponry. The new aid will help provide 800 anti-aircraft systems to combat Russian planes; 9,000 anti-armor systems to help destroy Russian tanks and armored vehicles; 7,000 small arms such as machine guns and shotguns; and a total of 20 million rounds that includes artillery and mortar. 

While I strongly support President Biden, and find him an honorable leader, I am concerned about some reticence and foot-dragging with some aspects to Putin’s war of aggression. I want more resolve and impactful decisions that will hit hard on the ground in Ukraine.

I read a column this month in The New York Times which ended with a theme I have thought to be essential when talking about Ukraine.

Long before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt understood that America could not be indifferent to Britain’s fate, even with the odds so overwhelmingly against it. At a meeting in Britain in January 1941, his closest adviser, Harry Hopkins, used the words of the Book of Ruth to convey to Churchill the feelings the two Americans shared:

“Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Then he added, “Even to the end.”

That is precisely how I feel today.

And so it goes.

President Zelensky Mirrors Winston Churchill, Leads Crusade Against Tyranny

News stories from Eastern Europe detailing the horrific actions of Russians against Ukrainians are enough to almost crush the spirit of anyone following the news. The photos and videos of the relentless depravity of firing missiles into civilian areas, causing deaths and severe injuries, hit the soul of anyone learning of the events.

As the international community ponders how best to respond to Moscow’s Madman, Russian President Putin, there is one person who has stood erect and remains sure-footed about saying what needs to happen.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not slip out of his country when the bombs started to fall. He does not mince words about the thug from Moscow who is on a war of conquest. Instead with resolve, conviction, and utter determination Zelenskyy is providing the world something not seen in such quantity in a very long time.

Leadership.

In just 14 days Zelenskyy has been placed alongside another brave man from the pages of history. Winston Churchill was the essential leader in Britain when the bombs started to fall as a result of another madman. While it certainly takes a ruthless and evil person, Hitler then and Putin now, to create conditions that demand a strong reaction from a leader, let us not forget what else is essential to leadership.

Character. Perhaps I should add, character above all. Zelenskyy has in volumes what Churchill also possessed. It needs noting Putin never possessed character–not even a ruble’s worth.

Zelenskyy has become the most recognized man around the globe. Clearly slated to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year. With absolute courage, a forthright attitude, and seemingly endless energy he is marshaling his people to do all it takes to win. And he is asking, pleading, demanding, and in the end trusting that the world community will all do their part, too, in helping Ukraine not fall to a totalitarian monster.

This morning above the fold in The New York Times the story about Zelenskyy had a Churchillian feel. It made for shivers up my arm as I read the news story.

In a dramatic video address to Britain’s Parliament, clad in his now-famous military fatigue T-shirt, Mr. Zelensky echoed Winston Churchill’s famous words of no surrender to the same chamber at the dawn of World War II as Britain faced a looming onslaught from Nazi Germany.

“We will fight till the end, at sea, in the air,” Mr. Zelensky said with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped behind him. “We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”

The speech, the first-ever by a foreign leader to the House of Commons, was the climax of Mr. Zelensky’s darkest-hour messaging to fellow Ukrainians and the world in what has become a typical 20-hour day for him in Kyiv, the besieged capital.

There is a famous political cartoon from history that shows where Churchill was in the 1940s. We know in Ukraine Zelensky now leads in much the same way. With steely resolve.

All Behind You, Winston.” Created by David Low, Evening Standard, 14 May 1940. Front row: Churchill, Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Amery. Visible behind them are Chamberlain, Halifax, Sinclair, Duff Cooper, and Eden. (British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent, http://www.cartoons.ac.uk)

Elsewhere there is no shortage of current political cartoons and front pages of newspapers that underscore the linkage between these two world leaders. While no one can write history until it plays out, I know who has almost the entire world praying for him and his people.

Zelenskyy.

And so it goes.