Much could be said and has been said this August 24th for the occasion of Ukraine's Independence Day. 31 years ago, I was only a four year old child. My parents probably were looking at me in full excitiement by observing the amount of future opportunities I could enjoy in a free, democratic, and independent Ukraine.

A Ukraine that had been denied for them and for all the generations before them. Before 1991, we Ukrainians never had the privilege of having our own land. Even after centuries of evolution of our distinctive culture, language, and customs, we have always been banned from our right to be what we are.

These 31 years of relative peaceful nation building made us much stronger than before. The country Russians encountered in the event of their invasion last February 24th was a completely different one if compared to prior times in history. 31 years made an enormous increase on the awareness of the importance to have our own nationality.

Centuries under the rule of anything analogous to a Russian state made Ukrainians react in two sides: by developing a deep knowledge of how limitless are the Russians to execute cruelty against common people, and also by developing a deep resilience against their methods of repression, horror, famine, and fear. Resilience to keep us alive, united, and build a nation on our own someday.

That's the reason we did not give up on February. We know very well what means life under command from Moscow and we cannot admit that again.

Our parents and grandparents couldn't fight for our independence because they didn't have a reference of what represents to be genuinely independent. My generation has the privilege of living independently for 31 years and we cannot capitulate facing the opportunity to keep that to our children.

This is the window of opportunity Ukrainians have been waiting for centuries and we cannot afford to lose that.

In 1917, the Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed as the first modern Ukrainian state. Two years later, it fell under the Socialist Russia's rule again, but these two years were enough to cultivate a huge set of national elements that unified our land, and raised a solid idea of what means to be a Ukrainian.

Elements that built an awareness of our position in the world and our ability to be part of the Western civilization by ourselves, recognizing us as part of the civilized Europe and most important: what categorically distinguishes us from the Russians.

Ukrainian People's Republic's postcard depicting a group with the yellow-blue flag and anthem lyrics, defending themselves from a Russian double-headed eagle. (November–December 1917)

Everything distinguishes us from Russians. Images speak by themselves, there's no need to develop a composition on our differences. But I will focus on one single matter of difference: the character.

The character of those Russians who have the scope of delivering chaos and desperation to my people for so many centuries. They suffer from an abysmal loss of integrity. It's hard to tell if there are human beings behind the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow.

It could be easily taken that it applies to the entirety of the Russian people. According to news, they do support the atrocities their dictator is promoting all over Ukraine and it's also easy to extend the barbaric manners to the population. But thinking carefully, do they have choice? Living in a dictatorship is a choice of life or death.

I'm talking about the common people, the ordinary Russians, who like me live on rent, on paycheck to paycheck, who commute everyday for hours in packed trams or buses. Do this simple people have choice? Or at least the ability to raise awareness of choice?

I'm certainly one of the Ukrainians who hate Russians the most. I'm always working to turn my hate into motivation when it happens to come my time in combat. However, by trying to elevate my spirits and engaging on some desperate way to find dignity on my worst enemies, I came to the point that I could think about forgiveness.

I think I can forgive the Russian people, generally speaking, for everything. I don't want to raise the systematic of hate against these poor people who are completely unaware of the games of power and entitlement from their dictatorship.

I'm not promising I'll let the hate go away. I'll certainly be uncomfortable with Russians for the rest of my life, I'm only trying to find a way to forgive them for being Russians.

Forgiveness to let life go and to minimize future questions between our neighboring populations. We can hate our neighbor, but we can also accept he is an idiot, forgive him for his idiocy, and pretend there's no one in the other side of the wall.

I'm talking specifically about the Russian masses of people. The Russian rulers, representatives, and dictators, these will never have my mercy.

These disgraces will go away someday, sooner or later, and I hope the future can be built on a base of this forgiveness I'm trying so hard to develop in my mind.