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From Our Shore To One More Forlorn: How a Texas City Came Together To Support Ukraine And Send A Message To The World

A wide array of raw emotion could been in the various face of the people who gathered along the shores of Corpus Christi bay and the Gulf of Mexico recently to send their message of love and support to the people of Ukraine.

A woman holds up a sign sending a simple but powerful message to world leaders while attending a pro-Ukraine rally in Corpus Christi, Texas on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Pro-Ukraine event organizer Olkesander Zhalkovskyi holds his young daughter and he surveys the gathering held in Corpus Christi, Texas on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Journalist Matt Pierce reports on the message that a small group of Texans is sending to world leaders from a normally quiet and reserved port community.

While Corpus Christi might not on a normal day be the place that sends a message to global leaders this group was at least doing their part to be counted among the numbers. ”
— Matt Pierce, Journalist
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, March 5, 2022 / -- Ukraine. The now war ravished country has been on almost everyone's mind of late. Support has come in for the country and their people from almost all parts of the globe. Groups are working to raise awareness, money and in some cases, people are even offering up ammunition and arms to the people of Ukraine who are fighting for what seems to be their very existence. This support is coming from everywhere, including a little known port city in Texas that sits just about 150 miles or so north of the Mexican border--Corpus Christi.

The Port of Corpus Christi is the fifth largest port in the United States in total tonnage and some feel as if it could become a strategic player in making sure that homes throughout Europe stay fueled should the situation between Russia and Ukraine linger on for months. The reality is that the Port of Corpus Christi could eventually serve as a hub to supply liquified natural gas products and liquified petroleum gases to Europe and Asia. On a cool Friday evening beneath the setting south Texas sun a group of people gathered along the shore here showing their solidarity for the people of Ukraine. Some of those here once even called Ukraine "home."

It was an event that was organized quickly by people who had little knowledge of even how to put together a public rally. They felt the need to do something even if it meant sending a small, subtle message of solidarity and hope to the people of Ukraine.

"Early Thursday morning February 24th, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine from its Northern, Eastern, and Southern borders. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a breach of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, thus a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, a break of international laws, and a threat towards the whole international system and the values it is built upon," says Oleksander Zhalkovskyi, the man who helped organize the event. Zhalkovskyi is a native of Ukraine and has lived in Corpus Christi only for a few years. This deeply devoted father and husband is proud to be an American, but is equally as proud of his Ukrainian heritage.

Each day for Zhalkovskyi is spent waiting on word from his mother and family who still live thousands of miles away on the forlorn and war stricken shores of Ukraine. Like anyone would be, Oleksander worries, waits, and prays for the safety of his family and his homeland. The stress of the situation can be seen in this young man's face. His often bubbly and bright eyes are now plagued with worry. His natural smile and caring look has now grown haggard with the worry and stress placed on him by a war that he doesn't totally understand. Organizing this event for him was more than just sending a message--it was about doing his part to fight a wrong that doesn't make any sense.

For Zhalkovskyi the stress runs a little deeper. His mother, grandmother and family are not seeking shelter as refugees because there is a fear that his 84 year-old grandmother might not be able to physically survive the stress of such a trip. He'd gladly take them into his own home, if he could but the with air travel into and out of Ukraine at a standstill, the simple logistics of making what might normally be an easy trip now nearly impossible. For countless Ukrainian's around the world the stress of what Oleksander is feeling is one that is real and one that shows no sign of going away anytime soon.

But on this night there was a light back in his eyes as this group of citizens gathered along the shores of Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. There was a vibrance and a passion that blew as hard as Ukrainian flags that blew in the cool Gulf breeze. On this night there was a small light of unity beaming from the hearts of American-Ukrainians living here in this seaport town and their friends alike. Even visitors from as far away as San Diego, Ca. came to be part of this gathering and unite their voice with those who were in attendance. Within this group there seemed to no division on this night as they came together arm in arm for what they determined was a worthy cause worth gathering for.

Gatherings like this one are not all that commonplace here in Corpus Christi. In fact, there was even some confusion as to if a permit was needed in order to gather and peacefully assemble. It seemed as if not even the city had basic answers to simple questions. Corpus Christi, Texas is not generally the place people come and gather with a spontaneous, yet powerful message to world leaders. But for those here who somehow felt called--or even obligated to do something, the gathering was more than what was needed to make sure that somebody, somewhere in the world heard their message.

"I am not sending a message to NATO or the UN," said Tamara Jones, a college student who attended the event. "I want my face to counted with those who are directly influencing decision makers around the world who can do more to help the people of Ukraine."

Jones is a student of history at a local college and she feels as if she is watching history repeat itself.

"Look, the world once said 'never again' to actions like this and now here we are letting it happen right before our very eyes. I am not calling for World War here but I do think leaders in places like China are watching the world's response as they consider invading places like Taiwan," Jones said. "This is the world's chance to send a powerful message."

While Corpus Christi might not on a normal day be the place that sends a message to global leaders this group was at least doing their part to be counted among the numbers.

Matt Pierce
Route Three Productions
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From This Shore To One More Lorn: A journalist's look at how a small group of people in a quiet coastal town came together for Ukraine and to send a message