While Memorial Day may be a uniquely American holiday, its sentiments — honoring those who have given their lives for their country in the line of duty — are global. America is no longer at war, having pulled out of Afghanistan, and if there was any positive to take away from that conflict that raged on for decades, it’s that US soldiers are no longer losing their lives in a war that was never really winnable.
America’s failure in the Middle East doesn’t diminish the ultimate sacrifice so many made by giving their lives, including athletes like Pat Tillman. A person dying for their country during World War II is just as heart wrenching as a draftee getting killed in Vietnam.
Today, we remember the dearly departed service men and women — including the sports figures turned soldiers — who allow us to live in this country and openly criticize it. If you want to keep your Memorial Day remembrances United States specific, by all means, do that. We have content for that, too.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the war crimes being inflicted upon its people by Russian forces who’ve been brainwashed by President Vladimir Putin into thinking their invasion of a sovereign country is justified. That’s why I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge the Ukrainian athletes who’ve died during the conflict on a day designated for honoring fallen heroes. Some had taken off their boxing gloves and picked up arms to defend their home country, and others simply had their dreams of a career in professional sports cut short.
People may be aware of the more notable Ukrainians like the Klitschko brothers and Vasiliy Lomanchenko, boxers who have enlisted in the military to defend their country. But they’re not the only athletes to do so, and tragically not all who’ve made that decision are still with us. Below are a few athletes — a boxer, a couple of soccer players, a biathlete — who were needlessly taken away from their loved ones entirely too soon.