Through their political mobilization, Ukrainian Americans in 2017 had quite a number of achievements, including Holodomor resolutions in three states on the 85th anniversary of the Famine-Genocide of Ukraine (most notably Oregon), as well as the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which provides funds for Ukrainian soldiers wounded in Ukraine to be medically treated in the U.S. Numerous organizations held conventions and conferences, and there were informative meetings with elected officials.
Ukrainian Americans met with Sen. Robert Menendez (D- N.J.) on January 6 at his office in Newark, N.J., to voice concern about President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state. The meeting was coordinated by Ukrainian National Association National Secretary Yuriy Symczyk, and was attended by Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) representatives Victor Rud and Myroslaw Smorodsky, as well as Tamara Olexy and Ronya Lozynskyj of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA). The UABA submitted proposed areas of questioning – including sanctions against Russia as well as the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the inviolability of independent states – for the confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 11. The delegation reminded Sen. Menendez that Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal based on security assurances from the U.S., Great Britain and Russia.
Sen. Menendez said that the U.S. needed to take more meaningful and effective action in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its invasion into eastern Ukraine. U.S. failure to act, he added, would corrode America’s credibility in the international arena, destabilize Europe and greatly fuel Russian international adventurism and expansionism. During the confirmation hearing, Sen. Menendez pushed Mr. Tillerson to explain his policy on Russia, to which Mr. Tillerson replied that he had not yet discussed Russia policy with Mr. Trump.
Ukrainian women – Jeanne Schmolze, Mary Kalyna, Olena Mishchuk, Irina Bronshteyn, Yulia Kurka – protested at the Women’s March on Philadelphia on January 21 that attracted 600-plus participants. They hoped to voice concerns of Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans following the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, in particular the U.S. relationship with Russia. This group of Ukrainian women was joined by Roman Cybriwsky. The Philadelphia march was part of a larger protest Women’s March on Washington that attracted approximately 500,000 protesters.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) met with the Ukrainian community of Hartford, Conn., on January 15 at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church to discuss concerns about the security situation in Ukraine and to share his perspective on the latest developments in Washington. Sen. Murphy said that he planned to vote against the nomination of Mr. Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state. He also voiced concern about President Trump’s stated willingness to lift sanctions against Russia. He said he was committed to resist any policy that might lend any legitimacy to Russia’s desire for a “sphere of influence” over Ukraine or other former Soviet republics, and he emphasized that sanctions against Russia must be kept in place until Russia removes all of its troops from Ukrainian territory and respects Ukraine’s right to self-determination.
A vigil to commemorate the heroes of the Heavenly Brigade was held on February 19 and 20 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The ceremony began with the singing of the Lemko song “Plyve Kacha” that had become an anthem of the Revolution of Dignity. The event was led by members of the Ukrainian community and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly, who was joined by diplomats from the Embassy of Ukraine. Also addressing the crowd were leaders of Ukrainian American organizations in Washington, including the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, United Help Ukraine and Razom. A prayer for the Heavenly Brigade was offered by Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic priests, with participants singing the national anthems of Ukraine and the U.S. A candle-lit ceremony officially closed the vigil.
The Ukrainian organization Razom for Ukraine, in collaboration with experts in Ukrainian policy and international affairs, launched its report “U.S. Policy on Ukraine: Challenges and Opportunities” on February 23 in Washington on Capitol Hill. The 95-page report provided analysis of current policy and concrete recommendations for the future. Mykola Murskyj, a Razom project lead for the report, described the report’s recommendations. He explained the need for a real and sustained ceasefire to address security, political and humanitarian concerns. Heavy weapons, he continued, needed to be withdrawn from the conflict line. The fact that previous ceasefires had failed demonstrated the need for increased international pressure on Russia to make it hold. Under the conditions in the occupied Donbas, young people continued to be susceptible to radicalization to support the Russia-led fighters. Civil society and NGOs needed more widespread support from the U.S., particularly local organizations that are not based in Kyiv, and U.S. support for the government in Kyiv should be conditioned on specified, concrete progress on reforms. Ukraine’s judiciary is among the most important areas of reform, as corrupt courts cannot defend property rights or lock in the necessary reforms, Mr. Murskyj added.
The first Ukrainian Days advocacy event of 2017 – hosted by the Ukrainian National Information Service and the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America – was held on March 8-9 in Washington. Nearly four dozen Ukrainian Americans (from New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Carolina, Washington state, the District of Columbia and Michigan) visited more than 50 offices in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Participants were joined by community leaders from the Central and East European Coalition, as well as the Syrian American community. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who sponsored the Crimean Annexation Non-Recognition Act, were presented “Friend of UNIS” awards by the UCCA. Present were UCCA President Andrew Futey, Ambassador Chaly, Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij and UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw Jr. Sen. Murphy was presented the Shevchenko Freedom Award for his support of Ukraine-related issues and his active role in shaping policy toward Ukraine. On March 9, participants gathered at the Taras Shevchenko monument to mark the poet’s birth date and lay flowers at the foot of the monument.
Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Mike Quigley, both Democrats representing the state of Illinois, met with the Ukrainian American community on March 12 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Chicago. They described their recent trip to Ukraine and their meeting with President Petro Poroshenko. Rep. Quigley has returned to Ukraine numerous times since his 2014 visit to the Revolution of Dignity. Sen. Durbin, who is of Lithuanian heritage, showed his keen awareness of Russian aggression and President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions during the meeting. The two described their efforts to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, bolster Ukraine’s military upgrades, and to support Ukraine’s chosen path toward Euro-integration. Rep. Quigley and Sen. Durbin urged the audience to contact their representatives with requests for aid to Ukraine.
In a March 22 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson, the UCCA urged him to visit Ukraine during his upcoming European trip in April. The letter called on the U.S. to take a leadership role with definitive action to stabilize the security in the trans-national and trans-Atlantic framework. Such a visit would, the letter argued, reaffirm America’s steadfast commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The letter reminded him of the passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, and the U.S. stance on non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s continued violations of international law. The letter also underscored the role of a democratic and prosperous Ukraine as a U.S. national security interest, as well as Ukraine’s longstanding partnership with NATO operations and missions during the past 20 years, despite its non-member status.
The Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA) was recognized by the Association of Charities of Ukraine as the best provider of Aid from Abroad during an award ceremony on March 29 in New York. In 2016, the UNWLA sponsored or supported: two summer camps in Yaremche and Lviv for families of soldiers serving in the ATO; training courses related to the assessment and treatment of traumatic injuries, in cooperation with Dr. Ulana Suprun acting minister of health of Ukraine; the Center of Hope at the Institute of Psychiatric Health at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv; medical equipment for a military hospital in Zhytomyr; the care of children with Down syndrome with the Children of the Sun in Zhytomyr; a children’s camp “Don’t Be Afraid! Be Free”; a robot simulator for medical educational training of the 80th Brigade; the visitation to Lviv of six physicians and two nurses from Massachusetts General Hospital to treat children and pediatric burn victims free of charge; the purchase of 240 beds and mattresses for the Ivan Bohun military high school in Boyarka (Kyiv region). Also noted was the UNWLA’s visitation to injured soldiers in hospitals in Kyiv, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Lviv and Zaporizhia; its ongoing aid to orphanages and orphans in Ukraine as well as aid to the aged, needy and families; humanitarian aid as part of the “Aid to Victims of the Ukrainian War of Dignity”; 250 scholarships for 2016 through the UNWLA Scholarship Program; and five Christmas camps for children from the ATO.
St. George Academy in New York has undergone a renaissance during the last few years thanks to the school’s principal since 2015, Andrew Stasiw. Mr. Stasiw is an active member of the Ukrainian community in the East Village and his reforms have included technological updates to the classrooms and a high-tech security system, as well as a revitalized sports program. New opportunities have been made available to the students, including visits by First Lady of Ukraine Maryna Poroshenko and Mamuka Mamulashvili of the Georgian National Legion fighting in Ukraine. The school has been a welcoming place for students from Ukraine as well as other parts of the world, with a strong English as a Second Language program.
The Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna (OOL) and the Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA) held an educational presentation about Akcja Wisla that was led by OOL President Mark Howansky and Diana Howansky Reilly, national board member of the OOL, on April 12 at the Ukrainian Center in Passaic, N.J. A coordinated effort to have survivors of Akcja Wisla meet with the youth of the UAYA has been ongoing, with multiple presentations within the Ukrainian American community. The official Akcja Wisla date is commemorated on April 18, when in 1947 nearly 140,000 Ukrainians were forcibly relocated to Poland. A number of commemorative events were hosted in 2017, including the annual UAYA Zlet competition on Memorial Day weekend at the UAYA camp in Ellenville, N.Y.
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) met with Ukrainian American leaders from the Philadelphia area at a roundtable meeting on March 18 at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown, Pa. Rep. Boyle, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, explained the current legislation related to Ukraine, the ongoing impact of Russian interference in U.S. domestic policies, as well as the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, co-introduced by him and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), aimed to increase cooperation between Ukraine and the U.S. on cybersecurity threats and methods to protect against those threats.
Rep. Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.) met with the Ukrainian community during a roundtable meeting on April 18 at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral – Kyiv Patriarchate in Bloomingdale, Ill. During the community meeting, Rep. Roskam explained that he had written to U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson about the need to support Ukraine.
A memorial service was held on April 23 during the St. Thomas Sunday Pilgrimage at St. Andrew Cemetery in South Bound Brook, N.J., to honor the memory of the fallen soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The year 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of UPA, the 70th anniversary of Akcja Wisla and the 70th anniversary of the Great Raid of the UPA. The prayer service was led by the Rev. Andriy Dudkevych of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Passaic, N.J.
The UCCA hosted an initiative meeting of Ukrainian national community organizations on March 4 at its offices in New York to plan commemorative events marking the aforementioned three anniversaries. The meeting included the Society of Veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Inc., the Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna (OOL) and Former Members of Ukrainian Insurgent Army-UPA. Commemorative events including a cultural evening and an academic conference were scheduled for October 13-14. Planning was coordinated by the Ukrainian National Committee, comprising Ukrainian community members who are active in numerous organizations.
The 70th anniversary of the founding of the New York branch of the Selfreliance Association of American Ukrainians was marked during the organization’s regular general meeting on April 2 in New York. Founded in 1947 by Ukrainian immigrants, the association has been committed to providing social service programs for the elderly and newly arrived immirgants, as well as sponsoring the Self Reliance School of Ukrainian Studies. The association is also an initiator of young professional organizations in the U.S. as well as the Self Reliance (New York) Ukrainian Federal Credit Union. Natalia Duma, branch president, opened the meeting, which included reports on the various activities throughout the year. Social services are a key aspect of assistance the provided by the association; this is made possible by grants from the City of New York, which are coordinated by Irene D’Alessio. The city has been providing funds for Selreliance Association programs for the past 20 years.
United Help Ukraine is a charitable non-profit that aids those who have been affected by the war in the Donbas, including displaced persons, soldiers who return wounded or families whose soldiers do not come home at all. The organization is focused on medical aid, defender’s aid, humanitarian aid and raising awareness. Having raised more than $245,000 since its founding, UHU has been able to supply a 3-D scanner for the Nodus rehabilitation clinic in Kyiv, massive shipping containers filled with medical supplies (with cooperation from the Brother’s Brother Foundation); it has coordinated rehabilitative therapy and equipment in addition to fund-raising for medical treatments. First-aid kits that were prepared by UHU were sent to the frontlines, as were uniforms, socks and insulating layers of clothing. On the homefront in Ukraine, UHU has sent children’s clothing and toys, as well as adult clothing and medicine. Events in 2017 included a rally on the National Mall in Washington in February, a charitable concert at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington and a classical piano concert on April 22 to benefit Ukraine’s wounded soldiers.
The 36th annual meeting and spring conference of the Ukrainian National Credit Union Association (UNCUA) was held in Washington on June 8-10. The event was hosted by the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union in Philadelphia, which marked its 65th anniversary. The meeting and conference attracted 33 participants representing 13 Ukrainian American credit unions. They had an opportunity to meet with legislators at their offices on Capitol Hill, to hear presentations on current topics of interest to credit union leaders and to elect a new board of directors. It was announced that on July 23, the UNCUA would be presented the 2017 Distinguished Service Award by the World Council of Credit Unions at its conference in Vienna. During the convention in Washington, Brian Branch, CEO of WOCCU, noted this was the highest honor of the global credit union movement. Mr. Branch also updated delegates on the credit union movement in Ukraine. A roundtable was led by Tamara Denysenko of the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union in Rochester, N.Y., and presentations were made by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Ambassador Chaly and President Czolij of the Ukrainian World Congress. Selfreliance FCU in Philadelphia was presented a plaque in recognition of its 65 years of service to the Ukrainian American community. Andrew Horbachevsky (SUMA Yonkers, N.Y.) was elected chair of the UNCUA. Orysia Burdiak was elected as president of UNCUA and the Ukrainian Cooperative Insurance Agency in Chicago.
The Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA) held its 44th Scientific Conference and 37th Assembly of Delegates on June 14-18 at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. The biennial convention’s theme was “Rehabilitation and Reintegration – Helping Ukrainians Help Themselves.” Conference participants heard presentations on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the associated health challenges, including the need for rehabilitation and reintegration services. Noted guest speakers from Ukraine included acting Minister of Health of Ukraine Dr. Ulana Suprun and Vadim Sviridenko, commissioner of the president of Ukraine for rehabilitation of ATO (anti-terrorist operation) wounded veterans. Various fields of medicine were represented during the presentations as were specialists in humanitarian relief work and researchers in population response to trauma and displacement.
During the conference banquet, numerous U.S.-based humanitarian organizations showcased various projects in Ukraine, including; United Help Ukraine, United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, Revived Soldiers Ukraine, Razom for Ukraine (Co-Pilot Project), National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation (Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv), Fulbright Program in Ukraine, Andrey Sheptytsky Hospital Charities, UMANA Foundation and the World Federation of Ukrainian Medical Associations.
The 70th Convention of the Ukrainian Orthodox League (UOL) was held on July 26-30 in Woonsocket, R.I., where it was hosted by Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Parish. Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel actively participated in the daily sessions, with clergy and laity presenting on various topics related to the UOL. Presentations focused on the work of the Church in supporting the Znamianka Children’s Orphanage, with mission trip participants explaining their experiences, as well as the challenges of the modern world and how the Church responds to them, the charitable work of St. Andrew Society and the summer events at All Saints Camp in Emlenton, Pa. The UOL Essay Contest Awards were presented by Teresa Linck. Reports and formal business concluded before the Senior and Junior UOL bodies elected their respective executive boards. It was announced that the 2018 convention would be hosted at the Metropolia Center of the UOC-U.S.A. in South Bound Brook, N.J., to coincide with the centennial celebration of the founding of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A.
During a working visit to the United States on September 18-21, President Petro Poroshenko and the first lady of Ukraine met with Ukrainian American community leaders and Crimean Tatar representatives at The Ukrainian Museum in New York. They were joined by Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, who is commissioner of the president of Ukraine for the affairs of Crimean Tatars. Mr. Poroshenko expressed thanks for the support Ukraine has received from the Ukrainian diaspora and from the U.S. Congress. He said that technological developments and partnerships with the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom can be used on the battlefield to confirm Russia’s violations of the Minsk agreements and other crimes that will be pursued in the International Criminal Court, underscoring that “it is not just weaponry [that is important], but a legal instrument of protecting the Ukrainian position.” Mr. Poroshenko also highlighted the plight of the Crimean Tatars in light of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and the need for unified support for them. The 85th anniversary of the Holodomor was also cited by the president, and he stressed the importance of its international recognition as genocide. Mr. Futey, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said that a united community can influence the decisions of the U.S. government and Congress regarding Ukraine and thereby help bilateral efforts. Areas of further cooperation include not only weapons for Ukraine, but greater funding for defense, energy, humanitarian assistance and necessary reforms.
Ukrainian American Veterans called on members and Ukrainian Americans to action to urge congressional support for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. The 2018 version of the act includes funding for treatment, transport, lodging and meals for those wounded from Ukraine who are being treated at U.S. facilities. The act also supports education and training for Ukrainian health-care specialists, including continuing care and rehabilitation services for wounded Ukrainian soldiers. These amendments were added thanks to the advocacy efforts of Ihor Rudko, UAV Connecticut Department commander, Michael Hrycak, UAV New Jersey Department commander, and Myron Melnyk of UAV Post 33 in New Haven, Conn. They were joined by Col. Sergiy Panchenko (air attaché, Office of Military Cooperation, Embassy of Ukraine in the United States) during a meeting with key staff at the office of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Other meetings with staff on Capitol Hill included Oleksandr Kosopalov, who was receiving medical treatment at Navy Inn hospital in Bethesda, Md. The meetings succeeded also in gaining the support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the amendment passed in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
During a community meeting on July 16 at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in New Haven, Conn., Sen. Blumenthal announced progress on the NDAA, “…to bring [these]bravest soldiers to the United States to obtain the best treatment that our military hospitals can provide.” Thanks to the efforts of local doctors (Dr. Alla Vash and Dr. Lesia Kushnir), four Ukrainian soldiers had received treatment at Connecticut hospitals. Other groups, the senator noted, included Revived Soldiers Ukraine, which had helped 30 soldiers to receive treatment at medical facilities in the U.S. The senator also acknowledged the work of UAV members and of New Haven-based activists, Mr. Melnyk, Halia Lodynsky and Carl Harvey, UAV Post 33 commander. Mr. Melnyk informed everyone that the Senate passed the NDAA amendments 89-8 on September 18, and prior to that the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the amendments unanimously. The renewed focus was on the parallel legislation proposed in the House of Representatives, as the new provisions in the amendments the Senate passed were not included in the House version. The reconciliation of the two bills was resolved during a conference of appointees from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees that began its work on October 16.
The UAV had partnered with the Ukrainian National Information Service in Washington, together with the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, to rally support. Ukrainian soldiers themselves came to Washington for the Marine Marathon in Arlington, Va., on October 22, and meetings were scheduled in Congress to include those soldiers. Other assistance had come from singer Hanna Cheberenchyk (Anychka) from Lviv, who had raised more than $100,000 for the Revived Soldiers Ukraine project in support of the UAV initiative. Sen. Blumenthal announced on November 8 that the final version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2018 had been adopted. A co-sponsor of the legislation was Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A press release from Sen. Portman noted: “…For the first time, the amendment authorizes assistance to bolster Ukraine’s naval capabilities, which were severely degraded following Russia’s seizure of Crimea. The amendment also conditions U.S. aid on progress toward key reforms, including instituting civilian control of the military, cooperation and coordination with Ukrainian parliamentary efforts to exercise oversight of the Ministry of Defense and military forces, and improvements in sustained capabilities, inventory management and security of foreign technologies.” Mr. Melnyk noted the work of Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Joe Courtney, both Democrats from Connecticut, as well as Reps. Kaptur, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.). President Donald Trump signed the act into law on December 12, 2017.
The Oregon state legislature, for the first time in its history, designated the fourth Saturday in November – November 25, 2017 – as Holodomor Remembrance Day in the state. The legislation was introduced – also a first in the history of the state – at the request of the local Ukrainian American community. The legislation was passed unanimously by both houses of Oregon’s legislature – the Oregon Senate and the House of Representatives. It was filed with the Oregon secretary of state on June 26, 2017. The Ukrainian American Cultural Association of Oregon (UACA) met with legislators, beginning with Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, who introduced the legislation at the request of Ukrainians in the Gresham area of Oregon. Legislators were then educated by the UACA about the Holodomor to build support. Sen. Jeff Kruse acted as sponsor of the legislation, with an additional 13 legislators signing on as sponsors. Sen. Chris Edwards from Eugene, Ore., introduced the legislation. In the House, the legislation had the support of Rep. Mitch Greenlick, whose ancestors came from Ukraine. A special signing ceremony was held on September 20 in the Oregon Senate Chamber.
A lively panel discussion that was hosted by the non-profit volunteer organization Razom on September 23 at the New York Civic Hall in New York focused on contemporary Ukraine and associated issues related to journalism, cultural diplomacy, medicine, civic engagement and manufacturing of backpacks. The event was part of Razom’s annual meeting that attracted 100 people, who heard about the organization’s projects. Panelists included Andrii Suslenko (a journalism fellow at the United Nations), Daria Sipigina (Penn State University), Luke Tomycz, M.D., Mariya Soroka (Razom co-founder and president), and Igor Gudz, entrepreneur.
Ukraine’s consul general in New York, Igor Sybiga, and his family were bid a fond farewell on September 28 at the Consulate General. Joining the well-wishers were Ukrainian religious leaders, diplomats and members of the Ukrainian American community of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mr. Sybiga, who had served as consul general in New York since 2012, was previously posted at the Consulate General in 2002-2004. Mr. Sybiga was honored for his many years of service and assistance to the Ukrainian American community, and was presented a plaque of appreciation by Stefan Kaczaraj, president of the Ukrainian National Association. Roma Lisovich, treasurer of the Ukrainian National Foundation, and Nestor Paslawsky, general manager of Soyuzivka Heritage Center, presented an honorary “key to Soyuzivka,” following the many summers the Sybiga family had spent there, including the Heritage Camp attended by the Sybiga children. Mr. Sybiga thanked everyone in attendance, especially the Ukrainian credit unions – Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union, the SUMA Yonkers Federal Credit Union and the Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union – that had aided the Consulate General in its work.
The Ukrainian National Information Service, the Washington-based bureau of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, marked its 40th anniversary with an evening reception on Capitol Hill on October 11 in Washington. The reception attracted 100 people and coincided with the conclusion of the third Ukrainian Days advocacy event for 2017. During the reception, Friends of UNIS Awards were presented to: Rep. Boyle of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ambassador Chaly and Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevicius. Rep. Boyle thanked Mr. Sawkiw and the Ukrainian community for the recognition, and said he was proud to represent a community of strong, vibrant and proud Ukrainian Americans from his congressional district in Pennsylvania. Ambassador Chaly thanked UNIS and its network of organizations and volunteer members, and in a surprise move presented a state award, the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (fifth degree) to Mr. Sawkiw for his work with UNIS and UCCA in strengthening U.S.-Ukraine relations. Mr. Linkevicius was unable to attend, but the ambassador of Lithuania to the U.S., Rolandas Krisciunas, accepted the award. Mr. Linkevicius sent a letter of thanks, read by Ambassador Krisciunas, noting that Lithuania will continue supporting Ukraine.
Other members of Congress who congratulated UNIS included Reps. Kaptur and Paul David Tonko (D-N.Y.), as did John Lansing, CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. George Nesterczuk and Tamara Olexy, both former directors of UNIS, shared their experiences and well wishes. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich sent greetings via video message; quoting Taras Shevchenko, she said, “Keep fighting – you are sure to win.”
The 35th annual national convention of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization was held on October 20-21 at Soyuzivka in Kerhonkson, N.Y. Reports were presented on the various activities of the previous year, and there were discussions to determine goals for the organization in the coming year. The convention delegates also learned that the organization is expanding in New York state and across the U.S. The year 2018 was declared the Year of Sea Scouting, as it was on April 29, 1918, that Ukrainian sailors hoisted the Ukrainian national flag on all the ships in the Black Sea Fleet. George Huk was re-elected as chair/chief corporate officer of the Plast National Board of Directors and Dr. Christine Kochan was re-elected as chair of the Plast National Council.
The New Jersey State Senate and the General Assembly on November 7 in Trenton, N.J., adopted a joint legislative resolution that recognized November 2017 as Ukrainian Genocide Remembrance Month. The resolution was introduced by Sen. Anthony R. Bucco and co-sponsored by Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco and Michael Patrick Carroll. The resolution noted the commemorative events in Washington on November 7 at the Holodomor Memorial and in New York on November 18 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The resolution named the Soviet regime under Joseph Stalin as responsible for the forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians. It noted: “This Legislature …remembers the victims of the Ukrainian Holodomor Genocide, salutes all those involved in the memorial services taking place throughout our country to commemorate this dark chapter in history, and urges the citizenry of the Garden State to participate fittingly in these observances…”
The 85th anniversary of the Famine-Genocide of Ukraine of 1932-1933 was marked in the United States with events across the country.
The U.S. Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness organized several major events to honor the victims. In Washington, a requiem service was held on November 7 at the Holodomor Memorial that was officiated by Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic clergy. Honored guests addressed the gathering before a congressional briefing at the Capitol Visitor Center. During the briefing, experts and members of Congress noted the historical, political and social ramifications of the Holodomor.
On November 18, more than 1,000 people representing various Ukrainian American organizations participated in the March of Remembrance that began at St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church on Seventh Street to 51st Street, concluding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where a commemorative event was held that included a requiem service led by Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic hierarchs, with responses and the recessional prayer sung by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka, under the direction of Vasyl Hrechynsky. The service was followed by remarks by honored guests, including Ms. Olexy of the UCCA, Ambassador Chaly, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jenifer Rajkumar, representing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Councilwoman-elect Carlina Rivera, Steven Kashkett of the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko and Mr. Sawkiw, chairman of the U.S. Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness.
In addition to the above-mentioned events, the U.S. Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, as well as the United Ukrainian American Organizations of New York had organized conferences and exhibits, and requested that governors issue executive proclamations honoring the victims of the Holodomor, in addition to developing Holodomor education curricula for high schools and colleges.
The Pennsylvania Senate on November 15 approved Senate Resolution 244, designating November as “Ukraine Genocide Remembrace Month.” The resolution notes that the Ukrainian population was deliberately targeted for starvation due to their will to not live under the Soviet yoke of Moscow. Following the unanimous passage of the resolution in the Pennsylvania Senate Chambers in Harrisburg, Pa., State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf was recognized for his work for Ukraine and was presented a Friend of UNIS award by Mr. Sawkiw of the U.S. Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness. Also present in the Ukrainian delegation were Eugene Luciw, president of the Philadelphia branch of the UCCA, and Ulana Baluch Mazurkevich, head of the Philadelphia Holodomor Committee. The delegation met with Lt. Gov. Mike Steck in his chambers to encourage trade between Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.