SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Syracuse Branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) held its annual flag-raising ceremony commemorating Ukraine’s Independence Day on Monday, August 24. In adherence with CDC guidelines, the event was limited to 40 participants with appropriate physical distancing and facial masks.
The Syracuse UCCA Branch’s vice-president and the master of ceremonies of the event, Greg Lisnyczyj, welcomed participants. “As we mark this 29th year of Ukrainian independence, we know the struggle for true freedom and dignity remains today. Many of our families came to this great country and built beautiful churches, continued our language, songs, dances and many other aspects of Ukrainian culture. It is here, where Ukrainian traditions thrive along with everyone else, and where the Ukrainian flag will soon be flying next to the stars and stripes.”
The Rev. Mitred Archpriest Mihai Dubovici, pastor of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, gave the invocation.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh read the Proclamation, which stated in part: “Whereas, portions of Ukraine’s territory are currently under foreign military occupation, we recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine as sovereign and inviolable… Now, therefore, I, J. Ryan McMahon II, county executive of the County of Onondaga and I, Ben Walsh, mayor of the City of Syracuse, do hereby proclaim the 24th day of August, 2020, to be Ukrainian Independence Day in the County of Onondaga and the City of Syracuse.”
The keynote address was delivered by Natalia Kolesova, a Syracuse University doctoral student in teaching and curriculum development focusing on inclusion for people with disabilities. “I hope that the knowledge and skills gained in my doctoral program will help me to create a successful and inclusive Ukrainian society. Where people with various corporeal differences and mental abilities will be able to exercise all freedoms and rights, and will be fully included in all political, cultural, social and economic aspects in Ukraine.”
Lida Buniak, Syracuse UCCA Branch president, gave the closing remarks. “Each and every one of our daily conscious decisions and individual acts can yield a resounding positive ripple effect that inspires a sense of social responsibility and a renewed sense of hope. On this cherished day, we especially want the citizens of Ukraine to know that we continue to stand with them and offer our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Lastly, Father Mykola Andrushkiv from St. Luke Ukrainian Orthodox Church closed the commemoration with a prayer and well wishes for Ukraine. “From the parish of the holy apostle, St. Luke’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, let us be thankful on this great national holiday, the Independence Day of Ukraine. This holiday, once again encourages us to pray for the freedom of all Ukrainian people, for the gift of self-determination, linguistic freedom and the preservation of our cultural identity. Glory to God and Glory to Ukraine.”
Mr. Lisnyczyj thanked all participants for adhering to CDC guidelines, and expressed his wish for everyone to stay safe and healthy, so that all may return next year to celebrate Ukraine’s 30th anniversary in 2021.