BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The Ukrainian community of Binghamton gathered at the annual celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day at Binghamton City Hall with a flag-raising ceremony on August 26.
The ceremony has been held annually since 1950 and organized by the local branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. Victor Czumak emceed the ceremony and introduced community leaders.
The Rev. Teodor Czabala of Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Rev. Ivan Synevsky of St. the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Vitali Ilchishin of the Together for Ukraine Foundation at First Ukrainian Pentecostal Church spoke about the power of prayer and the daily sacrifices of those who continue to defend Ukraine against an aggressive Russia. Pastor Ilchishin also cited the mission of Together for Ukraine Foundation to help the Ukrainian wounded.
Binghamton Mayor Richard C. David read the proclamation of Ukrainian Independence Day and presented the signed proclamation to Lubomyr Zobniw, UCCA Binghamton branch chairman. Mr. Zobniw thanked the mayor for hosting this event. During this year, Mayor David participated in three anniversary events that touch the Ukrainian American community. In appreciation Mr. Zobniw presented the mayor with a Ukrainian pysanka, whose Ukrainian motifs go back thousands of years.
Taras Stets explained in his historical commentary on the “Restoration of Ukrainian Independence Day” a few key topics: The United States has had only one Independence Day on Fourth of July to celebrate. America is fortunate that it does not have a powerful empire-building neighbor that invades and seizes territory even in the 21st century. During the war for independence, America was fortunate that, at its moment of need, France provided military aid. The Ukrainian people barely knew what freedom felt like. Under Russia’s imperial tsars Ukrainians were forced into serfdom, their language and culture were banned, they were punished with exile and imprisonment. Among the worst crimes against humanity was Joseph Stalin’s Holodomor of 1932-1933, the forced starvation of millions of Ukrainian farmers with their families, and his regime’s executions of Ukrainian intellectuals, clergy and artists. Stalin implemented his policies to eradicate Ukrainian culture and language within the USSR. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994 saw Ukraine give up the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile in return for territorial integrity guarantees. Thus, it is time to aid Ukraine with defensive arms.
Mr. Czumak recited in English the “Prayer for Ukraine.”
Michael Dobriansky, the post commander of the Ukrainian American Veterans in Binghamton, reminded all of the sacrifices made by the Ukrainian military. The UAV has collected more than $50,000 to help Ukraine’s wounded.
After the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem, the gathered spoke with reporters from four local TV stations as the Ukrainian flag over the Binghamton City Hall.
In a thank you note to Mayor David and his staff, Mr. Zobniw wrote: “It would be nice to celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day as the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but the Irish do not have an ongoing war with a neighboring Russian aggressor. Ukraine is in a state of war. Ukrainian defenders die every day. This celebration shows our solidarity with Ukrainians’ hope for a brighter future.”