Lviv, Ukraine – Artemiy’s best friend Dymyd unfolded his umbrella and gently spread it over his grave. Silky red matter covered his coffin as he lowered it.
The men, and many of the soldiers themselves, covered the freshly dug hole with dirt. The first shovels fell with a blow.
The funeral of Mr. Dymyd, a Marine killed in action, was the first of that day in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine where residents witnessed a relentless influx of their sons killed in the war with Russia. By the end of Tuesday, three more freshly dug graves near Mr. Dimid’s home would also be filled with young soldiers who died in the battle for the east of the country, hundreds of miles away.
The funeral began in Greek Catholic ChurchAnd the Eastern branch Catholicism spread in Lviv. Mr. Dimid’s father, a priest, delivered his eulogy. And then his mother, in her voice full of emotion, sang one last lullaby to her son.
The procession then made the all-too-familiar journey from the church to the city’s main market square, where dozens of young men in scout uniforms formed a guard of honor. Mr Dymyd, 27, has been part of the Ukrainian Scouting organization since the age of seven. Young children, teens, and adults from the group were there to say a final goodbye.
At the bottom of the square, four white banners announced details of the military funerals that will be held in the city on Tuesday, all for men killed in battle in the east of the country in recent weeks. Three of them did not reach their thirtieth birthday.
One young woman, who was wearing the distinctive green sash of a Scout, closed her eyes, drew in sharp breaths and clenched her fists to hold back her tears as she joined the slow procession of Mr. Demid.
Scouting was just a part of his life. I also love Mr. Dymyd, travel, adventure and extreme sports like skydiving. His nickname was korka, which means chicken. Friends said that Metallica’s music would have been more suitable for his funeral than the military concerts that are now played at the Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv every day.
Dmytro Basuk, 26, said: “He is one of the most dignified men I have ever met. He has lived many lives in his 27 years. People write books about characters like him, and there may be books soon.”
Mr. Basuk, who ran a wine bar before the war, served alongside Mr. Demid in the Ukrainian Marines’ special operations unit. He said they have become like brothers in the past few months.
Mr. Bashok said that on the night of the attack that ended his friend’s life, he awoke to the sound of an explosion and soon knew something was wrong. He immediately looked for Mr. Dymyd and saw that another friend was giving him first aid. When he saw Mr. Dymyd’s eyes, he knew they were bad.
“I was afraid to be by his side,” he said slowly. “Because when I saw it I felt like it wouldn’t work.”
Mr. Dymyd died a short time later.
Mr. Bachok said he has mixed feelings about returning to the front lines in a few days. He described waves of feelings, but said he wasn’t angry or vengeful.
“I don’t have a feeling I want to kill everyone because this happened,” said Mr. Bashok. “Thanks to Corca. Teach me to stay calm.”
A fellow Marine, Roman Lozinski has been friends with Mr. Dymyd for two decades, having met him when they were both young scouts. Mr. Lozynskyi, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, volunteered for the army three months ago and served in the same unit as Mr. Dymyd and Mr. Paschuk.
Describing his lifelong friend as a “madman” with a lust for life, he rushed back to Ukraine from a paragliding trip in Brazil to enlist when the war began. His friends said that Mr. Dymyd wanted to continue skydiving during the war and finally had the opportunity last month as part of an assignment.
It was Mr. Lozynskyi, said Mr. Lozynskyi, that it was Mr. Dymyd’s brother, Dymyd, who had considered putting the parachute in his grave, alluding to Mr. Dymyd’s passion for skydiving. The brother, who is also a soldier, received permission to attend the funeral but will return to the Donetsk region in a few days.
As the mourners slowly made their way from the cemetery, the gravediggers pounded the earth over Mr. Demid’s grave to a sturdy mound.
There are still three more to go.