Americans woke to the news on Thursday morning that Russia had invaded Ukraine and for those here in the United States following the story, major alarms sounded.

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Russian forces invaded Ukraine and by doing so they confirmed the worst fears of the West- Russia has essentially launched war and one that could very well turn out to be the largest war in Europe since World War II.

The Cold War extended from 1947 to 1989 and for 42 years, Americans felt the tension between our country and the Soviet Union. For 42 years, we woke up each morning wondering if that day would be the day we would be attacked.

I vividly remember being in the third grade in 1989 at a small-town school in Upstate New York where duck and cover drills were still very much practiced. A duck and cover drill happened when alarms rang out through the school and children were taught to curl up under their desk or carefully file into the hallway, face the wall, and curl up into a tight ball against it.

As an adult, I understand that had there been an atomic attack, no amount of ducking and covering would have saved our lives but at the time, we did what we were told to do. The Cold War and duck and cover drills began in 1951 before my mother was even born and continued into my early elementary years.

I remember exactly where I was when it was announced that the Cold War had ended. I was in the third grade and it was just weeks before Christmas in 1989. Our student-teacher from Soviet Ukraine wept with happiness while my class let out a whoop of cheers as we loudly sang the popular USSR children's song, "May There Always Be Sunshine" which had been taught to us by our student teacher.

Little did we know peace in the world would not last. Less than a year later, a television would be rolled into our classroom and we would watch in horror as the Gulf War began.

The same year that the Cold War came to an end, my third-grade class began a pen-pal exchange with a class in the USSR. I can’t remember the name of my pen pal but I remember that although much of what she wrote to me was redacted, what I could read broke my heart. She wrote of having to stand in a long line for hours only to be handed a single loaf of bread to feed her entire family. And, she wrote of her fear of going outside to play, a freedom every child should be able to enjoy.

I don’t know, maybe someone somewhere who was scanning the letters between classes decided too much information was being revealed because suddenly, our exchange was stopped and we were told not to speak of it.

I’ve thought of my pen pal often over the last 33 years, but as news broke of Russia invading Ukraine, I found myself thinking of her again. Is she safe? Is she scared? Did she ever make it to the free world?

While my thoughts went to my pen pal, they also went to wondering what the invasion could mean for me and my family, including my son who is not much younger than I was during the duck and cover drills.

How could Russia's invasion of Ukraine impact Americans? Experts believe that there will be global economic repercussions that will push up inflation as gas and food prices skyrocket all around the world.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been keeping a close eye on the ever-rising cost of fuel and food and you’ve probably been feeling the pinch, but this whole thing with Russia might do more than pinch our wallets – it might leave a nasty bruise.

While the United States doesn’t import very much directly from Russia, Russia is a massive supplier of oil and gas to European countries and generally, when it comes to conflict situations, the first things to react are the oil and gas markets. Americans are already dealing with outrageous gas prices, but they may get worse. Additionally, a spike in prices or even a halt in distribution could lead to even more supply chain issues.

Also uncertain is whether the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will spill over into countries such as Poland, Romania, or even Lithuania, countries that the United States military would be required to help defend which would plant us in another war.

Combined, Russia and Ukraine are responsible for nearly 30 percent of global wheat exports and Ukraine is responsible for 15 percent of global corn exports. You see where this is going, don’t you?

Rising gas and food concerns aside, how can we not be concerned for the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire? Innocent individuals not harming anyone, just trying to live and now they are faced with the unimaginable- a tyrant entering their country with force and launching a total assault on their democracy.

Today, my heart hurts.

Пусть всегда будет солнце,
Пусть всегда будет небо,
Пусть всегда будет мама,
Пусть всегда буду я!

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