So Mr. Beinart, what would you tell this family?
The Post used this shot
to promote the war, despite
the fact the soldier didn't
I'm alive and he's not
Grandma sobs over fallen S.I. sergeant
BY VERONIKA BELENKAYA, JOHN LAUINGER and CORKY SIEMASZKO
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Her eyes clouded by grief and age, the grandmother of a Staten Island soldier killed in Iraq peered yesterday at a photograph of her grandson and the young woman who got his engagement ring only after he was already gone.
"This is what kills me," Lilya Kolchynskaya, 78, said softly in Russian. "I'm alive and he's no longer here. It's not fair. I'm all torn up inside."
Sgt. Yevgeniy Ryndych died before he could tell his family that he intended to marry the girl he met in Colorado or that the engagement ring he'd purchased for her over the Internet was being delivered by FedEx.
"My daughter called Kim [the fiancée] to tell her that he died," Kolchynskaya said. "Half an hour later she called back and said he sent a ring."
Finding out that her son had hoped to get married was too much for Ryndych's mother, Stanislava.
"She fell right there," the grandmother said, pointing at the living room floor. "She screamed so loud. You just can't live through this."
Tears streaming down her face, Stanislava Ryndych told the Daily News that knowing her son died doing something he wanted to do gives her a measure of comfort.
And even though the right-wing New York Post used her son's death to promote its extreme pro-war position in yesterday's paper, she said her son felt otherwise.
"I know it was a stupid war and he knew it," she said. "But it was his decision to be a man in this life. For him, to be a man and be in the military was the same."
Ryndych, 24, was killed Wednesday by a homemade bomb while on foot patrol with his unit.
Kolchynskaya said she was home with a health aide when "the Americans" arrived bearing bad tidings about her "Zhenya."
"I don't speak any English," she said. "They stared at me and I stared back at them. Something inside me shook and I thought that maybe Zhenya is dead."
But Kolchynskaya's aide didn't give anything away. It wasn't until her daughter returned home in tears that she realized her grandson was dead.
Ryndych's fiancée, Kim, whose last name the family declined to reveal, flew from her home in Colorado Springs to New York after getting the news.
"We were sitting here," Kolchynskaya said, pointing one hand at the sofa and holding the other over her heart. "She put her head on my shoulder and just wept. She just sat there and cried."
Ryndych's dad, Sergey, "didn't shed a single tear," the grieving grandmother said.
"He didn't cry," she said. "He just turned to stone."
When you're sitting behind your desk, playing geopolitics, do people like this matter? Heartbroken people, people who have survived much more than you can ever imagine, a grandfather who fought at Stalingrad, a family which invested everything in America.
Do they count to you? I mean, can you imagine the poor fiance getting an engagement ring FedExed to her by her now dead boyfriend, a mother who faints at the news of her son's death?
What would you tell them? It was OK. We were stopping the spread of radical Islam? That we were helping Iraqi democracy. What excuse, what fable would you tell them to explain the loss of their son, that hole which will never be filled.
It's easy to play big man when talking in abstracts. But what do you say to these people, people who have lost a son in this pointless, failed, war?
Nothing. Because men like you are cringing cowards.
posted by Steve @ 11:59:00 AM