BETHLEHEM/ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Honoring the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence, members of the Ukrainian American community in the Lehigh Valley staged programs in both Bethlehem and Allentown. Pa., on August 24. A show of support from local political leaders, interesting addresses and delightful artistic programs highlighted the celebrations.
Jaroslaw Chorwat led the Allentown program held in front of City Hall and presented a short address focusing on the 25th anniversary. The Ukrainian flag was raised by Viktor Litkewycz, a member of Ukrainian American Veterans Post 42.
Proclamations were presented by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and State Rep. Michael Schlossberg. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent spoke of his recent trip to Ukraine. He shared his observations and voiced his support of Ukraine and its efforts to deal with the serious issues confronting the nation. He cited positive changes as well as a positive outlook for its future.
Seven-year-old Luka Chorwat recited a verse from the poem “Love Ukraine.” The Very Rev. Anthony Perkins of the Protection of Theotokos Cathedral in Allentown ended the program with a prayer for Ukraine and its people.
Later that day, a separate event was held at Bethlehem’s City Hall Plaza. Sponsored by Branch 91 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, the program began with an opening prayer by the Rev. Archpriest Daniel Gurovich, pastor of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, who prayed for blessings for Ukraine and its people and an end to the tyranny facing the nation.
Led by UAV Post Commander Oleh Balaziuk and flanked by many members of Post 42, David Kadingo and Viktor Litkewycz raised the American and Ukrainian flags while the Archpriest Daniel Troyan, pastor of Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Easton, Pa., led the singing of the American and Ukrainian anthems.
Master of ceremonies Oksana Kipa introduced keynote speaker Prof. Albert Kipa, who provided a comprehensive history of Ukraine and pointed out how historical events have impacted on current situation in Ukraine. He underscored Ukraine’s ability to maintain a national identity despite the many years of foreign oppression and numerous acts of betrayal.
Proclamations were provided by Alexander Karras, chief of staff to Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez; Meghan Lago, State Sen. Lisa Boscola’s legislative assistant; and State Rep. Steve Samuelson, who congratulated Ukraine on its 25th anniversary of independence and praised the sacrifices made by the Ukrainian people as they sought independence from oppression and dominance. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent spoke to the audience about the changes he had seen on his recent trip to Ukraine and the need to support the nation in its struggle against aggression and efforts to address the issue of corruption.
Oksana Sadtanitch led the musical interlude with the singing of two popular Ukrainian songs, “The Mighty Dnipro Roars” and “Ukraine.” Bohdanna Poliansky then sang “Mother’s Blouse.” Luka Chorwat recited an excerpt from the Ukrainian poem “Love Ukraine.” The Very Rev. Anthony Perkins offered the closing prayer and led the audience in singing “Mnohaya Lita” to Ukraine.
UNWLA Branch 91 President Oksana Koziak thanked the participants, while Andreana Kedyulych, Luka Chorwat and Alex Kedyulych presented them floral bouquets.