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In Ukraine, the grief-stricken bear the pain of war


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Mothers burying their sons, children burying their fathers. As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, men and women have been dying in droves on the front lines, fighting off Russia’s invasion of their country.

For them, the fight is over. They paid the ultimate price. But it is their parents, their children, their siblings and their spouses who will carry the pain of war, the tears of the nation.

Over a period of 15 days in February, numerous funerals were held in towns and villages near the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, for soldiers killed in fighting in Donbas, in the east of the country where most of the battles are now concentrated. The same scene is repeated day after day, week after week, in villages and cities across Ukraine as those killed on the battlefield return home for the last time.

The vast majority were not career soldiers. A carpenter, an ornithologist, a baker, a pharmacist, a student — they signed up to fight because of the war, leaving behind their civilian lives.

In small villages where they had once led ordinary lives, mourners from the entire village came to their homes to pay their respects to their families after they were killed. They were buried in their military uniforms.