Today is the 25th anniversary of the nuclear meltdown in Chornobyl. All the children walking to school this morning were dressed in suits and ties, their best dresses and shoes. It’s a day of remembrance for Ukrainians, and each class holds a lecture about April 26th, 1987 so the new generation will not forget.
During our arrival retreat in Chernihiv, Iryna, one of the Ukrainian directors of the Peace Corps in Ukraine, told us about her experience during that time.
The Soviet government didn’t inform the public that the disaster had occurred until April 29th, and only after radiation levels had set of alarms at a nuclear power plant in Sweden. Because she was working as a translator and could speak English, Iryna learned about what had happened well before most Ukrainians. She was brought in by the Soviet government and forced to sign a document swearing that she would not share any information about the disaster with anyone, and, terrified, she signed. I can’t begin to fathom the sense of fear and entrapment she must have felt.
Here’s an article about a town near Chornobyl, a perfect example of the mentality of the Ukrainian people.