Life in the Borderland

Returning from a Slavic land on a Slavic airline after serving a mission aiding the Catholic Church in Slavic Eastern Europe, I craved a little freedom from Slavdom.  So I eschewed the late Slavic pope’s tradition and refrained from kissing the earth after touching down at O’Hare.  Instead, I enjoyed a quiet cigarette outside arrivals, alternating lungfuls of Dunhills with lungfuls of the crisp and relatively clean Chicago air.  (One doesn’t fully appreciate vehicle-emission standards until choking on the fumes of commie-era Ladas belching pollution with Bolshevik abandon.)  After two enlightening months in Ukraine, whose spiritual highs and sinful lows mirror her tumultuous history, it was simply wonderful being home.  It wasn’t merely a matter of feelings, either, but based on objective facts—elemental conveniences such as regular tap water.  (It only flowed sporadically in my apartment in Lviv, and even the locals warned against drinking it unboiled.)

Other Americans weren’t so lucky.  They also journeyed to that same part of the world on behalf of a noble cause, but never returned.  While exploring Lviv one dank, icy afternoon in mid-February, I chanced upon the final resting place of Arthur Kelly, Edmund Graves, and T.V. McCallum, from Richmond, Boston, and Detroit, respectively.  They rest in a corner of a Polish military cemetery, now located in the independent...

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