Ray Buursma: America must support Ukraine

American Age Official

God save our gracious King,

Long live our noble King,

God save the King!

Send him victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us,

God save the King!

A history lesson

These could easily be the words of our national anthem, were it not for one factor. Let’s examine that factor:

Two and a half centuries ago, American colonists told Britain’s parliament they would part ways. King George would have none of that, and the war for independence began.

History likes to portray American colonists as highly motivated, resolute underdogs who fought as much for freedom as for their lives. That scenario was accurate but incomplete. Yes, there were many acts of bravery and resolve, but there were desertions by soldiers and many failings by officers.

Ray BuursmaRay Buursma

Ray Buursma

Americans are seldom taught, however, that when David slew Goliath in the war for independence, he had an accomplice. From the get go, France, Britain’s longtime rival and enemy, helped America.

The assistance began almost as soon as independence was declared. France shipped not only war supplies to the fledgling Colonial Army, but also provided financial aid, loans and military advisors.

When the colonists finally won a significant battle at Saratoga in September 1777, the French doubled down. They poured tons of money into the colonists’ cause and committed 12,000 soldiers to fight alongside the Americans. More than 2000 Frenchmen were killed and buried in American soil (Americans lost about 7,000 soldiers).

But the great finale came during the Battle of Yorktown where the French played a critical role. British General Cornwallis blundered by encamping in a city surrounded by water. He was unworried, for he reasonably believed the British fleet could evacuate his army if necessary.

Cornwallis, however, didn’t know a French fleet had positioned itself near the shores of Yorktown, and its mission was to prevent British ships from aiding Cornwallis. That mission succeeded. Cornwallis received neither supplies, reinforcements, nor an escape route.

It was not only the French navy, which helped. Many of the troops surrounding Yorktown were French, and their role in capturing the British army was so significant a British officer offered the sword of surrender first to French General Rochambeau.

No French assistance, no victory at Yorktown. No victory at Yorktown and who knows what the revolution’s outcome would have been.

Stay the course

Please know today’s history lesson serves a point.

In a few weeks, a new Congress will convene. Several Republican lawmakers and conservative talking heads have expressed their desire to question, to decrease, and even to end financial and military assistance to Ukraine. It’s never bad to review a situation, but Americans must be wary, even worried, of such cuts.

Yes, America and NATO nations commit much money to the Ukrainians, money which could be used domestically. But that investment has been effective, and Ukrainians are retaking territory they lost during the early stages of the war. Russian forces have paid dearly for their illegal incursion.


The French of the 1770s did not help Americans solely because of altruistic motives. They viewed a weakened Britain as advantageous for themselves. The same is true concerning Ukraine today. Here is why.

Eastern Europe is the battleground for a war between democracies and autocracies. Putin knows this and has taken the bull by the horns. Biden also knows this and is helping the bull.

In the end, America, NATO, the EU, and the free world benefit from Ukraine’s success. The young democracy was working to establish freedom, liberty, equality and other ideals we cherish after decades of crushing authoritarianism. This contrasts sharply with Russia to the east and Belarus to the north, both dictatorships.

Ukraine is not alone. Other Eastern European nations face the same challenge and are moving toward democracy. This worries autocrats who fear loss of power and influence.

America must not shirk from assisting Ukraine. Yes, there is a price to be paid. Luckily, that cost is mostly financial unlike recent wars where America paid with soldiers’ lives.

What Americans gain from Ukraine’s success will be much greater than the long term cost of withdrawing aid. If this reason is insufficient, consider again the national anthem you sing today. It would likely be different had another nation not helped America 250 years ago.

Finally, dig deep to discover the true motive of influencers who disapprove of America’s assistance. Some have clearly stated their support for Russia and Putin. That itself should cause concern. 

— Community Columnist Ray Buursma is a resident of Holland. Contact him at writetoraybuursma@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Ray Buursma: America must support Ukraine

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