UA House hosted a Celebration of the 32nd Anniversary of Ukraine's Independence in Sacramento.
August 25, 2023, Sacramento, California — Thousands gathered at California’s Capitol to celebrate Ukraine’s 32nd Independence Day in Sacramento.
The event, organized by Ukrainian American House (UA House) and the Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco, brought together Ukrainians and Sacramento community supporters to honor Ukraine’s independence and express their solidarity in the face of ongoing challenges.
The celebrations began with the “Ukrainian Community Leaders Forum” where U.S. officials, Ukrainian parliament members, and business and nonprofit leaders discussed how to join together and strengthen support for Ukraine. They collaborated on how to best support Ukraine on its way to freedom. UA House also partnered with the Protez Foundation to launch a fundraiser for the Independence Day celebration which aimed to support injured Ukrainian soldiers with their prosthetics surgery. Notably, Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief, announced a $500,000 donation to continue supporting the Protez Foundation.
Following the leadership forum, the celebration began at the steps of the Capitol where additional speakers addressed the thousands of Ukrainian and Sacramento residents that gathered. Among them was Dmytro Kushneruk, Consul General of Ukraine in San Francisco; Major General Matthew P. Beevers, Inspector General; Morgan Williams, President and CEO of the US-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC); Kevin McCarthy, Member of the Legislative Assembly; Halyna Yanchenko, People's Deputy of Ukraine.
Remarks from our honorable guests
"It’s my honor to mention that yesterday we celebrated 32 years of restoration of our statehood because Ukraine has a thousand-year history. In these 32 years of renewed Ukrainian independence, we built our democracy and protected it from any attempt to violate essential principles. It wasn’t a perfect democracy by any means, but it was ours. Our Ukrainian democracy. So, the Russian attack on us was not just a simple grab of land but this is a violation of world order. And we Ukrainians, we went to fight not just for our land and our national interest but we went to fight for democracy itself. And only thanks to the bravery and courage of Ukrainian soldiers who sacrificed their lives can we stand here today and say with confidence that Ukraine will exist forever. And our soldiers, they are really true heroes who fought for our independence when the Russian army committed numerous war crimes,” said Dmytro Kushneruk, Consul General of Ukraine in San Francisco and member of the Advisory Board UA House.
"My message tonight is for the people of California and the people of America. It is incredibly important that you remember and realize that this war is not going on for 18 months. It’s gone on for nine long years. Ukrainians absolutely need our support, and we drive an immense value from delivering that support. Another thing it’s important to remember, and American people often forget, is that the government in Moscow is not a government. Mr. Putin’s government, per se, is an organized criminal enterprise masquerading as a government. That invaded the Ukrainian country unjustly and illegally. And that must not stand,” Major General Matthew P. Beavers said.
"I want to say that we have over 400 or 500 companies investing in Ukraine. They have been investing for over 30 years. The U.S. business community has created millions of jobs in Ukraine. During the Orange Revolution, the business community did not leave. During the revolution of dictators, the U.S. business community did not leave. And now, when Putin invaded, the US business community is not leaving. The U.S. business community stands with Ukraine. The first thing they did was donate hundreds of millions of dollars for humanitarian purposes. Secondly, they protected the thousands and thousands of employees that they have in Ukraine. They protected their families, and they have done everything to keep their business going. As you know, we need jobs in Ukraine. We need payrolls in Ukraine. And we’re going to have an amazing job to build Ukraine after we throw out Putin,” said Morgan Williams.
“When you go home today or tomorrow morning, please write a message or give a call to your representative, senator, and governor. And ask them to provide more military support to Ukraine. Be specific - name the ammunition, like F16s. We really need to move it. And look around. We have so many people in this place, and imagine if each and everyone would go home and write a letter or give a call to politicians in the U.S. And that’s how we can make Victory Day come closer,” Halyna Yanchenko said.
Experiencing the impacts of the war through real-life artifacts
As part of the evening’s celebration, an exhibition of war photos and artifacts was also displayed across the Capitol street. The exhibit’s creator is Alina Tyulyu, an Ukrainian American who arrived in Ukraine during the first days of the war to help the victims. One day turned into a year, and she spent her time traveling around Ukraine to capture the indomitable spirit of ordinary people who bravely resisted the aggressor by defending their land. In addition, she brought a number of military artifacts which immersed the visitors in the realities of wartime in Ukraine.
Everything that was presented at the exhibition was real-life artifacts she collected during her time traveling the country and capturing the impacts of the war. The goal of her exhibit is to show people the realities of the war in Ukraine. Some of the artifacts even smelled like the war or had ashes and tears in it, transporting people to the on-the-ground realities of the conflict.
Ukrainian musicians created an authentic vibe
A festive concert in the very center of Sacramento provided a unique opportunity for attendees to experience Ukrainian culture through thrilling performances by artists like Eurovision finalist Alyosha, Voice of the Country finalist Vyacheslav Rybikov, and the dynamic Bangladesh Orchestra.
Ukrainian heroes share their journey
Additionally, the Protez Foundation joined the event and hosted two Ukrainian soldiers who were visiting the U.S. for their prosthetics and rehabilitation treatments. They gave remarks to the audience, sharing their experiences in the military and once again demonstrating their indomitable spirit. Both of the soldiers lost their limbs during military operations, but they received a second chance for a full life through prosthetics, which they received in the United States thanks to the PROTEZ Foundation. That is why UA House, during the event, fundraised to help such soldiers. The funds will be used to cover the costs directly related to the prosthetics of the US military, as well as the various financial needs that arise during the trip, such as visa fees, flights, accommodation, important psychological support, and the important emotional recovery process.
"I firmly believe that our unity at this event goes beyond shared ideals and emotions. We are bound together by a desire to demonstrate unwavering support for those who have sacrificed their well-being and personal destinies for the future of Ukraine. This very purpose deeply resonates with me, and I am truly thankful for every individual contribution made toward this meaningful endeavor," - Vlad Skots, Chairman of UA House, said.
As always, these events included a moment of prayer dedicated to Ukraine. Local Sacramento church pastors gathered on stage to lead the attendees in prayer.
Refugees experience the spirit of their homeland
Over the past year and a half, thousands of Ukrainian families came to Sacramento under the Uniting For Ukraine program. All of them were separated from their own homes and culture due to the war. And they continue to experience the distress of being displaced and are often overcome with stress. Three of our partner refugee resettlement agencies joined the event to distribute their resources and connect with refugees who might need support with accessing publicly available funding. But even more so, this celebration of Independence Day was an opportunity for Ukrainian refugees to hear their native language, feel the spirit of their native country, and make new friends with our Sacramento brothers and sisters who have made us all feel so welcomed.
Cultural events like these are a critical part of UA House’s mission. We will continue to do our best to host cultural events, educate the public about Ukrainian’s needs during the war and advocate for support. We thank our generous sponsors for helping make this event happy. Your support is critical in providing hope, positivity, and unity during this difficult time.
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