Exactly one week before Taylor Swift dropped her new album, Midnights, plus seven additional songs at 3 a.m., her ex Conor Kennedy made headlines for something entirely different: The heir to the Kennedy fortune announced in an Instagram post that he’s been fighting on the front lines of the war in Ukraine without using his storied surname.
The 28-year-old said he was so “deeply moved” by the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year that he secretly joined Ukraine’s International Legion, enlisting in the army soon after the news broke. Despite having no military experience whatsoever, Robert Kennedy’s grandson said he “really wanted to help” and was “willing to die there.”
“Going in, I had no prior military experience and wasn’t a great shot, but I could carry heavy things and learned fast. I was also willing to die there,” Kennedy wrote. “So they soon agreed to send me to the northeastern front.”
Though his time in the military wasn’t long, Kennedy said that he, “liked being a soldier, more than I had expected. It is scary. But life is simple, and the rewards for finding courage and doing good are substantial.”
While serving in the military isn’t that out of the ordinary for those related to politicians (and politicians themselves), the great-nephew of the 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy didn’t want his family title affecting how he was perceived while in active duty. He revealed that he hid his real name in Ukraine: “I didn’t want my family or friends to worry or to be treated differently there,” Conor writes.
There are many ways to live eternally in the American imagination, including being part of a beloved presidential family, as well as having briefly dated Taylor Swift. And while we can’t know for sure why Kennedy shared this life update when he did (“I know this story is coming out,” he wrote vaguely in his Instagram post)—within days of Swift’s new album dominating the news cycle—we certainly applaud him for his service and bravery, at a time when Ukrainians are deeply suffering and need any help they can get.