Dispatches from Ukraine – The Shadow of War

An infant is christened at a church in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Special to the Bloomingtonian)

Lviv, Ukraine, March 14, 2022

By Matthew Hatcher – Special columnist for the Bloomingtonian

Walking around Lviv it’s easy to forget you are in a country at war. Much of the city functions as it has before the Russian invasion. The shops are open, though there are no alcohol sales, children run around and play in the parks, young couples walk around holding hands, and even street musicians fill the air with heart full melodies.

But it quickly comes back that a war is happening not far away. You turn a corner and a funeral for soldiers killed in Kyiv is proceeding, refugees with bags filled with all their belongings arrive at the bus stations, and the normal sounds of the afternoon can be shattered with the eruption of air raid sirens.

Things are slowly starting to change too in Lviv.

Over the past few days more and more historical buildings and statues are being covered with sandbags and protective foam. Today in the main city center workers hustled about covering windows with plywood, and the shops closed early as the air raid sirens rang out.

A war is still going on in Lviv, but it’s not quite the destroyed buildings and dead bodies you see on the television. That time though seems to be close at hand, you can see it in the concerned faces as well as the churches and statues that are being hidden by blast shields.

Yesterday we attended a mass service and watched a baby be christened, the same church only a few days ago was a place of mourning for three soldiers killed in Kyiv.

Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Special to the Bloomingtonian)

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