South Lake Tahoe, Ukrainian connection (Opinion)

Brad Johnson
Guest column

The news and images flowing from Ukraine onto our TV’ s, tablets and phones gets worse everyday. Many can’t comprehend, many turn away, fearing the image of their own family laying dead in the streets or forced from their home, city and country under unbearable conditions will creep into their conscience.

Here, nearly 6,200 miles away, we see different images.

We see a core group of passionate, dedicated and diverse citizens of South Lake Tahoe that have taken to the streets to stand for Ukraine. They include three native sons and daughters of Ukraine — Leonid, Marsha and Natasha — Reve Ramos, a Hispanic Vietnam veteran, founder of the group and local businesswoman Jana Menard, Jennifer Ward a retired nurse, Steve Sandro from the Bay Area and John Frederich a city councilman.

They have welcomed everyone to join them and many have. Many more have joined Solidarity for Ukraine on the Nextdoor app. Since they started, on Feb 28, they have, with few exceptions, have gathered at the “Y” (where U.S. Highway 50 and California State Route 89 cross) from 11 a.m. to noon for the last 40-plus days. Armed with flags, signs, closed fists and peace signs flashing at the cars driving by.

The response from the general public, locals and tourists provide the inspiration that keep them coming back day after day. Every honking horn, waving hands, thumbs up and peace signs make them realize that, as a group, they are reminding others that this is important. That we, as a community, are lucky to have what we do and live where we do.

This diverse group has come together regardless of our background or cultures. That the irony of “peace rally” people who, back in the day, protested a war here and can stand side by side with a veteran who supported and fought in that same war tells volumes. That a native Ukrainian who protested Russia’s ideology under fear of arrest can stand in public and speak his mind freely without fear of repercussions. That a journalist who has held dear the idea that he must be unbiased and simply report the news would be moved to stop writing for a while, pick up a sign and join them.

Not since we, the 25,000-plus locals, had to evacuate during the Caldor Fire have I been so proud of my community.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.