LAWRENCE, Kan. — The developments in Ukraine are hitting much too close to home for University of Kansas professor, Vitaly Chernetsky. His hometown of Odessa experienced shelling over the weekend.

“The Sunday morning shelling was especially traumatic when I spoke to my father, because the intended target was only about a half a mile from the house,” Chernetsky said. “The explosion sounds were very loud.”

Odessa is a port city on the Black Sea. Chernetsky’s father, Alexander, still lives there, and won’t leave his homeland.

“They were right around 6 a.m. and he woke up, he obviously ran out of the house worried,” Chernetsky said.

With the war now in his backyard, Chernetsky thinks of friends who have come across scenes like the horrifying images of civilians dead in Bucha.

“It’s just so traumatic,” Chernetsky said. “My friend is a father of a small daughter, and he was thinking about the street where you saw the photographs of all those corpses of people who were just shot, random passersby, where he used to walk with his daughter when she was two, three years old.”

Chernetsky’s mother, Natalia Chernetska, is remembered for her unwavering faith. She passed away in February of 2021, likely to COVID-19.

“I just shudder to think what she would have thought and how she might have experienced that,” Chernetsky said.

Her memory always in his mind, and his father’s safety at the forefront, Chernetsky hopes for a resolution soon.

More than 40 days in, he hopes Americans aren’t forgetting about his people.

“I am worried about people’s attention spans, and the attention fading because it has happened to other horrible crises around the world before,” Chernetysky said. “I think the atrocities in Bucha that were seen by the world, they shook everyone up, and it brought attention back.”

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