The Chernobyl Three

From the August 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

At Chernobyl, man strove to yoke the earth,and bend the primal elements of ituntil they cracked with pure atomic power.And then the yoke came loose, and all was chaos.A continent lay sleeping, unawarethat in the frozen north a molten streamcrept ceaselessly toward apocalypse.Let it touch water, and a poisoned cloudof steam would pour into the sky above,an upraised scythe to reach the whole of Europe.The workers, soldiers, firefighters, allknew that the plant was poised to blow again.One valve would stop it, but the way was long.No man who went into the plant would live.Three men came forward from the group to volunteer.Three men to stand between a continentand certain doom. No statues would be theirs.Just six feet by four feet of permafrost,three lead-lined coffins, and their duty done.Death does not always come in fire and blood.A brave man stands and does his duty wellwhen he is called upon to face the sword.But take away the sword, and send him doomslow-creeping, with a taste of bitter iron,and pins and needles prickling at the skin—the heartiest might quail. But not that day.In Kiev and Prague, grandmothers walk the streetsand see their children’s children play around thembecause the three of Chernobyl gave all.And somewhere in a quiet Russian field,three lie at rest, their duty to mankindnow done.