WARREN, Mich. – Ukrainians in Metropolitan Detroit celebrated the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence with a prayer service for Ukraine and its people led by both Catholic and Orthodox priests, a keynote address assessing the progress Ukraine has made during its first 25 years of independence by Prof. Alexander Motyl and a celebratory concert by local talent, followed by a banquet and dance.
The event was bittersweet, as it was hard to celebrate with Vladimir Putin’s continued occupation of Crimea and Russia’s unrelenting terrorist activities in eastern Ukraine. However, in his address, Prof. Alexander Motyl pointed out that many political pundits did not believe Ukraine would maintain its democracy for this long – and it has. In fact, he pointed out, in the last two years since Maidan and the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has stood up on the world stage and shown its resolve and commitment to freedom, self-determination and the rule of law.
According to Prof. Motyl, “more has been accomplished in the last two years than in the entire 23 preceding Maidan.” Thus, we should take heart in those accomplishments and look to a better future.
The gala celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day, organized by the Ukrainian-American Civic Committee of Metropolitan Detroit, was held on August 27 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren, Mich.
The planning committee included: Vera Andrushkiw, Olena Danylyuk, Ruslana Pronko, Valentyna Shayda, Elizabeth Symonenko, Tetyana Bedrus, Roman Los, Roma Dyhdalo, Vera Petrusha, Halya Pytiak, Mykhailo Diachun, Matthew Wroblewski, Marie Zarycky-Cherviovskiy, Ulana Ohar-Kushner, Walter Kozar, Kateryna Tkachuk, Larissa Ghiso, Bohdan Korduba, Zirka Clark-Zubar and Olga Meyer.
Commander Wroblewski of Post 101 led Ukrainian American Veterans in the ceremonial presentation of colors. Jarema Cisaruk sang the American national anthem and Tetyana Bedrus led the Ukrainian national hymn with piano accompaniment by Halyna Yalovenko.
Ms. Andrushkiw welcomed the guests, which included representatives from Sen. Gary Peters, Rep. Sander Levin and Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Children from Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization and the Ukrainian Democratic Youth Association (ODUM) placed a wreath and lit a candle in memory of those who gave their lives for Ukrainian independence. Michigan State Rep. Martin Howrylak presented Gov. Rick Snyder’s proclamation.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary the Ukrainian community honored local benefactors who gave generously of their professional skills and time, and opened up their hearts to two of Ukraine’s wounded warriors: Dr. Carlos Ramirez of St. John Macomb Hospital, Dr. Mark Juzych and the team at the Kresge Eye Institute, as well as Dr. Zoryana Klepach, Dr. Nadia Juzych and Tetyana Bedrus, who opened their homes and welcomed Andrij and Dmytro into their families.
Dr. Motyl, professor at Rutgers University, Ukrainian-American historian, political scientist and author, gave the keynote address: “25 Years After Independence: Ukraine’s Achievements and Strategic Goals.” His fluid bilingual presentation was lauded by the audience.
The address was followed by a celebratory concert that featured vocalists Khrystyna Bezckosta, Irynka Lapshynska, Tetyana Bedrus and Yuriy Marshtupa. Mr. Marshtupa dedicated his performance to the memory of the Rostenkos and the Shumylos for their very important input and care in changing them from “Soviet people into Ukrainian patriots.” The role of various individuals in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence cannot be overestimated.
The ensemble Vyshyvanka, under the direction of Iryna Svytka, performed two choral pieces by Ukrainian composers. Milia and Tania Smyk entertained with “Bandura Conversation;” and Oleksander Hedeon, Andriy Shturko and Roman Zhylych, three students of Ukrainian Music Institute, performed piano renditions.
Proceeds from this event will be sent to Viktoria Voronovych to enable the International Alliance for Fraternal Asstance to continue its support for volunteer fighter battalions in the line of fire by delivering clothing, shoes, food, water, medical supplies and humanitarian aid.