Eyewitness to war

Hoover student shares his family’s experience in Ukraine.


By David Zakaryan, Staff Writer

February 24, 2022: the day that changed everything. The day that made me appreciate the small things and love the close ones. The day when the unbelievable became the truth, the unthinkable became the reality: a real war started in my country.

Since 2014, my family and I have been living in fear, fear of war. In 2014, my city, the beautiful city that I was born in, was as near to war as ever. The occupied Donbas area, located in Ukraine, was located just around 200 miles from my city: the great city of Kharkiv.

And though life had been different since that, we still lived in our beloved city in peace. 

All of that changed this year.

On February 24, a week after we celebrated my parents’ birthday, we woke up to the sound of bombs. We woke up in disbelief, genuine disbelief, that something like this could happen… in our country.

The first month was both the toughest and the scariest. Endless days and nights were spent in shelters. The whole course of our lives remained unknown.

And while we were there in Kharkiv, one more thing didn’t let us sleep peacefully: the fact that we were separated from our beloved family member, my brother, who was still in Kyiv, over 300 miles away from us.

“Where is he right now?” “What is he doing?” “Is he safe?”

All those questions, as well as many others, lived in my head rent free.

A month passed.

The month of March welcomed us with some good news and a feel of daylight in the dark.

First, my brother left the country and headed West, to Europe, where he was finally safe.

Oh, and the other thing: I turned 16!

What a great way to start the month!

The overall situation got a little more quiet, but we were nowhere close to peace. Bombs kept flying over our heads, and families kept suffering about the losses of their loved ones.

There isn’t much to tell about the following month.

Things mostly remained the same.

My parents were doing their best to move their family away to somewhere safe and sound. That safe and sound place (though temporarily) came out to be Armenia, my second home.

Now, I’m not going to go into detail on how we left, how we traveled, or how we made it to Yerevan, and that’s not nearly as important.

The most crucial thing is that everyone is safe and healthy. Everything else is really just not as crucial.

Well, after all I’m here in the United States, pursuing the American dream and praying for peace in my homeland.