Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to Congress on Wednesday didn’t please everyone. Some weren’t thrilled that he showed up to the White House and on Capitol Hill looking like, well, a commander in chief fighting a war.
I’ll tell you who Zelensky’s speech pleased: our readers. Several wrote letters comparing him favorably to Winston Churchill and other wartime heroes. A handful made unfavorable comparisons — but only of certain American politicians to Zelensky. Perhaps that helps explains the quibbles over the Ukrainian president’s fashion choices.
To the editor: The president of Ukraine showed the world what a true hero looks like. This short, slightly chubby comedian is truly a man among men.
What isn’t widely known is that although he could justifiably declare that he will stay in power indefinitely, he isn’t doing that.
Zelensky models to us all courage, perseverance and humility. If all our leaders in the U.S. would emulate these qualities, the ideals of the American dream could come to fruition.
We can be proud that this brave man is keeping his eye on the star, and with the help of the U.S. and other allies, he is sure to achieve his objective.
Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles
To the editor: As I listened to Zelensky’s speech, my first thought was what could have happened in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal if President Ashraf Ghani had stayed and united his country, as Zelensky did, instead of fleeing.
Had he stood with his citizens, worked to implement a peaceful transition and showed the world Afghanistan was strong, Afghanistan could now have a totally different outcome where women could go to school and have stronger employment.
Zelensky inspired; Ghani fled.
Debbie Cassettari, Chino Hills
To the editor: Yes, Zelensky was able to address a joint session of Congress with an impassioned and insightful speech, and in a foreign language for him.
Yes, he has been able to represent his country to the world, with dignity and gravitas, despite his youth and diplomatic inexperience.
And yes, he has been able to inspire and guide Ukraine through the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
But let’s not forget the very first days of the war. Intelligence services warned of a quick and decisive Russian victory. No one would have criticized Zelensky for seeking safety and setting up a government in exile, considering the danger and his responsibilities to his wife and young children.
Yet in the face of a massive Russian army, assassination squads and mercenaries, he chose to stay in Kyiv, exhibiting extraordinary courage.
To all Republicans who still adhere to the Trump-Putin axis and celebrate the “brave patriots” who overwhelmed an outnumbered U.S. Capitol Police force to invade and defile the heart of our democracy on Jan. 6, 2021, I suggest you consider the Ukrainian president to learn the meaning of true bravery and patriotism.
One thing is for sure: You will hear no claims of heel spurs from Volodymyr Zelensky.
Joel Jaffe, Beverly Hills
To the editor: The winter solstice represents the time at which daylight occupies the least amount of time in a day. With the cold and shortened days, the urge is to find warmth and light.
For this reason, it was only fitting for Zelensky to visit Washington on Dec. 21. His speech to Congress was the most inspiring address I have heard from Capitol Hill in my 28 years. He spoke of triumph over tyranny and victory in the new year.
It is inevitable that 2023 will bring the enhanced challenge of a bolstered Russia-China alliance alongside Belarus, Iran and North Korea. In spite of the winter flurries ahead, it is clear that the incoming cold snap is merely preparing us for continued war ahead.
Zelensky’s speech showed that only in the darkness will humankind be directed toward our united, democratic destiny. As Ukraine has shown us, we must not lose our love of life and liberty when the lights go out.
We must ramp up our resolve and continue to arm Ukraine. Zelensky has not lost his energy in the face of evil, and neither should the United States.
Henry Wilson, Washington
To the editor: Zelensky’s speech to Congress was somewhat personal for me, since my grandfather was born in Ukraine.
However, from a more global and historical perspective, Zelensky’s speech was reminiscent of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speech to Congress in 1941, when he appealed for America’s help to repel Adolf Hitler’s assault on his country.
In the modern world, Russian President Vladimir Putin is no less a threat than Hitler was in 1941. America and our European allies must respond with all necessary financial and military support to repel Putin’s brutal assault on the people of Ukraine.
Gary Vogt, Menifee
To the editor: How many of those senators and congressmen who stood to applaud Zelensky voted to acquit our former president of trying to shake him down for a political favor?
What moral flaccidity. What a disgrace.
Jay Abramowitz, Santa Monica