Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter Z

Moments before I moved our car.

We got our two to four inches. I got up a little earlier than usual, retrieved our newspaper, shoveled our sidewalks and moved our car off the street. I took a moment to appreciate the sun rising in the east. Further in that direction, it was still the middle of the night in Ukraine.

Any minute, the City of Rockford’s snow plows will be clearing the boulevard.

Last fall, the City acquired five new trucks and for reasons I don’t understand, named them Snowtorious B.I.G., Sled Zeppelin, Plowzilla, Darth Blader and Plowabunga. Cute names for heavy, massive machines designed to wreak havoc on snowflakes that have every right to be here.

Halfway across the world, there is snow in Russia and Ukraine. But Russia isn’t plowing their streets. The Russian military tanks, each curiously emblazoned with an enormous white Z (or more), are plowing through Ukraine; a country that has every right to be there.

The Zs, I’ve read, are a signal among Russian tank operators. When a tank operator sees another tank with a Z, it’s a quick way of saying, “Don’t shoot.”

It’s OK to shoot their neighbors though.

Why did the Russian military name their tanks “Z?” There is no Z in the Russian alphabet. They have a ж, which has a “zhe” sound and a З, which is like the z in zebra.

Time to crack open the old books.

In case you’re wondering why I know this, I studied Russian in college at the time Ukraine and several other countries were breaking away from Russia. Seeing the Zs on the Russian tanks caught my attention.

Why wouldn’t Russia mark their tanks in their own language or with their own symbol? Why did they use modern English? I can’t imagine the U.S. government ever allowing a Russian symbol or alphabet character on one of our tanks.

I understand the letter Z isn’t owned by the United States of America, or anyone, but I can’t stand seeing it on the Russian tanks. I’ll admit that military language is fascinating, but it does little to soothe my soul. Wherever you are, whatever language you speak, I hope you are fluent in peace. Thank you for reading. -Connie

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