To Defenders of Freedom

84-year-old Valentyn took his family out of a village in Zaporizhzhia region after almost a month of hiding from Russian bombings in the basement

Valentyn Mykolayovych with his granddaughter

A photo of a grandfather lulling a baby to sleep in a center for displaced people has gone viral. For almost a month, Valentyn Mykolayovych and his family were hiding from Russian bombing in the basement of a house in the village of Stepove in the Zaporizhzhia region. When food supplies ran out and the family nearly lost their mother, Mr. Valentyn decided to evacuate his family as he was the only driver. He covered such a distance on his own for the first time — more than 1,000 kilometers of driving to secure his son, daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, and dog.

Valentyn Mykolayovych with his dog

The family made their first stop in Zaporizhzhia. There the volunteers took a famous picture: the grandfather lulling 6-month-old Isabella to sleep while her parents were with the older children. Mr. Valentyn recalls his own youth after World War II: “I played with ammunition, but I do not want such a childhood for my own grandchildren.” His family is now safe, but it is unknown if they will have a place to return.

Valentyn Mykolayovych with his family

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