Our country needs to support, help to defend Ukraine

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

   Thank you for last week’s fine article noting the recent death of Roger McMurrin, a 1957 Monticello High School graduate and founder and long-time director of the Kiev Symphony. In 1994, this Presbyterian minister sold everything he had and moved to the country of Ukraine armed only with his religious convictions and musical expertise. Under his direction, the Kiev Symphony emerged a world-class orchestra and choir, drawing rave reviews in the numerous countries where it performed.

   He brought his talented orchestra and choir to Monticello six times between 1998-2018. Many local families gladly housed the musicians, taking them bowling, canoeing on the Maquoketa River, and touring the area while creating mutual friendships. A few years ago, local churches sponsored a return of the Kiev choir, displaying its superb talent at our high school.

   This week marks the second anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the country where members of Mr. McMurrin’s beloved symphony live and perform. Russian missiles and bomb-loaded drones have rained down on Ukrainian cities killing 7,000 civilians to date, while destroying innumerable homes and businesses. This toll is in addition to Ukraine’s estimated 200,000 military dead and wounded. Death and destruction in Ukraine continue unabated.

   On Feb. 13, the U.S. Senate, in a bipartisan vote, approved additional military aid for Ukraine. Much of this aid consists of weapons, equipment, and ammunition already stored in our military warehouses requiring periodic replacement. The Republican Speaker of the House refuses to bring the Senate bill to a vote despite its widespread support in order to keep his job and satisfy a couple dozen members of the extreme wing of his party.

   Our town has been blessed many times with the music professionalism and friendship from members of the Kiev Symphony, a creation of a Monticello graduate. Should our country fail to support these brave Ukrainians as they valiantly defend their country from Russian aggression, it will be tantamount to signing a death warrant for many more thousands of Ukrainians.

   I hope and pray for the safety and survival of our symphony friends and their fellow citizens. But hopes and prayers are no match for an invading Russian army.

Nick and Anne Strittmatter

Monticello, Iowa


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