Nov 20, 2023
On 18 November, hundreds of Ukrainian Americans gathered before St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City to embark on a nearly 3-mile “March of Remembrance” in memory of the innocent victims of the Holodomor – Stalin’s Famine-Genocide of Ukrainians in 1932-33.
As organized by Ivanka Zajac, president of UCCA-NY, the procession was led by an enormous bell, which tolled at every intersection in memory of those who perished. Following the bell were a Ukrainian American Veterans (UAV) Color Guard led by National Commander Michael Hrycak, and Ukrainian American youth representing the “Samopomich” School of Ukrainian Studies in New York City, the Ukrainian School of Ukrainian Studies “Nova Khvylka” in Brooklyn, the “Shkola Ukrainoznavstva” at the New York City oseredok of the Ukrainian American Youth Association (CYM), and scouts from the local area Stanytsia of the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization.
Additional marchers included Soyuzanky from the New York Regional Council of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, local member-representatives of Svitanok, the Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna, the “Self-Reliance” Association of American Ukrainians, the Organization for Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine, the Women’s Association for the Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine, the Ukrainian American Freedom Foundation, the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations, the Ukrainian Institute of America, the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the Liberty Foundation, the Federation of Ukrainian Student Organizations of America, the Ukrainian Free University Foundation, and assembled clergy and seminarians from across the entire NYC metropolitan / tri-state region.
Once the procession ended, marchers joined with several hundred more Ukrainians from New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania inside the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral for an ecumenical requiem service – a Ukrainian Panakhyda.
Prior to the service, UCCA President Andriy Futey introduced His Eminence, Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, who greeted the faithful to the basilica. The Cardinal then turned over the lectern to Metropolitan Anthony, Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, for an opening word of remembrance.
A solemn procession entered through the nave of the cathedral to the accompaniment of the Ukrainian Chorus “Dumka” of New York, singing a choral concerto by Artemy Vedel. The Ukrainian American Veterans once again led the procession followed by schoolchildren holding LED candles and finally Holodomor survivors Nadia Severyn and Rev. Yuri Bazylevsky, escorted by their family members.
Following the memorial service, UCCA President Andriy Futey commenced the commemorative program, referring to both the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as well as the present invasion of Ukraine as “planned and orchestrated genocides of the Ukrainian nation by the Kremlin.” Throughout the day, many speakers would refer to the war against Ukraine – “not a ‘war in Ukraine’ nor a war ‘between Ukraine and Russia,’” but in the words of UCCA’s President – as a war of genocide.
The first guest of honor invited to speak was the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who arrived in New York after spending the entirety of her previous day commemorating the Holodomor with UCCA’s Andriy Futey and the United Ukrainian Organizations of Ohio. Amb. Markarova thanked “both Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine” in attendance who had gathered to commemorate a “totalitarian attempt to subdue our spirit and destroy us as a nation.” In pointing out that Stalin’s successors in the Kremlin today continue to deny that the crime of the Holodomor Genocide took place, she asked, “How often have we heard that ‘unpunished evil’ will return?”
Following the Ambassador of Ukraine, Senator Charles Ellis “Chuck” Schumer of New York, who has served as Senate Majority Leader since 2021 and as the senior United States senator from New York since 1999, returned to the podium which he has visited for decades to once again “stand with Ukraine.”
Repeatedly, the Senator emphasized in his remarks that the United States “must give Ukraine everything it needs,” and that under his leadership, “the United States will not fail to meet this moment and will not fail the Ukrainian people in their hour of strife.” Upon concluding his conversation with “мої друзі,” the thousands gathered in attendance rose to their feet with thunderous applause.
Amb. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, followed the Senator by announcing that in response to his invitation to fellow representatives of UN member-states to co-sign a declaration commemorating the 90th year of the Holodomor – offered just 2 days earlier at an event co-organized by UCCA and the Ukrainian World Congress – 45 nations had already co-signed the declaration. Also, in response to a letter initiated by Amb. Kyslytsya and co-signed by UCCA’s Andriy Futey, Metropolitan Antony and Metropolitan Borys Gudziak, the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, and over a dozen representatives from UN member-states were present in the cathedral in solidarity with Ukraine.
Amb. Elisabeth Millard, acting representative of the United States to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, spoke next and remarked that like with many other commemorations of tragedy, this annual event is also about resilience. And like the Senator before her, the Ambassador reiterated that the “United States continues its enduring commitment to stand strong with Ukraine in this fight for justice.”
Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Chair of the U.S. Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor Genocide Awareness and UCCA Vice President, tied the events of today in Ukraine with those in 1932-33 by remarking that “the Soviet Union created the original ‘Fake News.’” Disinformation by Russia “remains one of the biggest challenges facing greater awareness and genocide recognition of the Ukrainian Holodomor,” stated Mr. Sawkiw.
Before offering a closing benediction, Metropolitan Borys Gudziak asked the assembled faithful to recognize the Holodomor survivors in attendance, which elicited another standing ovation for Pani Severyn and Rev. Bazylevsky. The Metropolitan then invited everyone to pray “with our heart and our hope,” to overcome the hate of terrorists, of antisemitism, and the death of Muslims in China; such prayer “will overcome the hatred of Putin. And Nadia and Fr. Yuriy testify it to us in a quiet way. That is the Way of God.”
Following the benediction, the congregants rose for the singing of the spiritual anthem of Ukraine, Bozhe velykyi, yedynyi – “Oh God, Almighty and Only.” To the accompaniment of the Ukrainian Chorus “Dumka” of New York, under the masterful direction of Vasyl Hrechynsky, Ambassadors Markarova and Kyslytsya unspooled an enormous flag through the central aisle of the cathedral which the assistance of those in attendance.