A resolute call for help emanated from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s virtual speech Wednesday morning before a body of lawmakers, and he invoked a number of historical moments when the U.S. was attacked and forcefully responded.
“Americans,” he said, attired in a t-shirt, “in your great history you would understand Ukrainians. Understand us now. We need you right now. Remember Pearl Harbor…Remember September 11, a terrible day in 2001 when people tried to turn your cities into battlefields…Our country experiences the same every day. Right now, this moment every night for three weeks…Russia has turned [the] Ukrainian sky into a source
of death for thousands of people.”
He even invoked Dr. King when he said, “I have a dream. I have a need. I need to protect our skies. I need your help, which means the same you feel when you hear the words I have a dream. Ladies and gentlemen, friends, Ukraine is grateful to the United States for its overwhelming support. Everything your government and your people have done for us, for weapons and training, for leadership to pressure the aggressor economically.”
His plea for assistance cited Mount Rushmore, which he had visited, and World War II, comparing what is happening in his country to the worst devastation since that destructive war. “You know what kind of defense systems we need. You know how much depends on the ability to use aircraft to protect our people, our freedom…aircraft that can help Ukraine, help Europe. We know they exist and you have them.
They are not in Ukrainian skies.”
The first several minutes of his speech was delivered via translation, and then interrupted by a video depicting a beautiful Ukraine and one being destroyed by bombardments. He concluded his address in English, poignant words meant especially for President Biden. “I am almost 45 years old,” he stated. “Today my age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths. This is my mission as a leader of my people and as a leader of my nation. I’m addressing President Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world.”
When he concluded there was a standing ovation from the audience. Even so, there was no immediate response from President Biden, but he is expected to announce more than $1 billion in new military aid to Ukraine.