On Sunday, February 17th, 2019 - the Ukrainian-American Community of the greater Washington, DC Metropolitan area gathered in the nation’s capital for the prayerful solemn observance of the 5thanniversary of the tragic loss of life – the HEVANLY HUNDRED – the young men and women of Kyiv’s Maydan that were shot to death in February of 2014.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, accompanied by Very Rev. Fr. Volodymyr Steliak (pastor of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring, MD), Very Rev. Fr. Claudio Lutai and Subdeacons Mykola Zomchak, Ivan Vehryn, Yaroslav Bilohan – seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, NJ) participated in the formal program and led the Memorial Panakhyda, honoring the memory of the lost lives of the Maydan in Kyiv.
Prior to the beginning of the Memorial program, everyone in attendance stood in silence as a rendition of the Maydan’s Anthem – “Plyne Kacha” was performed in memory of the lost Heroes of the HEAVENLY HUNDRED.
Opening the ceremony, the ambassador of Ukraine, Honorable Valeriy Chaly addressed the participants of the Memorial program in front of the National monument, dedicated to the memory of the lost millions of Ukrainians that parishes in the Artificially created Famine in Ukraine of 1932-1933. In his remarks, the ambassador stated, “…that now, exactly as in November 2013 - February 2014 on Maydan, our core strength is in our unity and reliable mutual support.”
The memorial event was organized by the Embassy of Ukraine and in the US and the United Help Ukraine, US Ukrainian Activists, Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), by the Ukrainian community and by the representatives of the International Committee for Crimea.
Speaking to several journalists, following the Memorial service, Archbishop Daniel, quoting the Statement of the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the USA, stated: “…Five years ago the world in awe witnessed the redefining events in the life of back then 25-year-old independent Ukraine – a redefinition, which had great impact on history books and our lives as the profound expression of democracy exploded on the streets of the nation’s capital – the city of Kyiv. The parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA were once again were bathed in candlelight as vigils and prayers were offered for the ancestral homeland by so many of the faithful of the UOC of the USA and throughout the world.
The events of November 2013 and throughout the winter months of 2014 in the life of independent Ukraine and her aspirations to continue the development of true democratic society came under a severe threat. Thousands of Ukrainian citizens stood up for their beliefs by participating in protests – known as Maydans – based on their location in the central squares (maydans) throughout Ukraine, in addition to Kyiv. Hundreds of lives were lost protecting the sacred precepts of God-given independence and the physical borders of a very young European nation. Now, five years later, over 13,000 more have perished in the defense of that independence against foreign invasion in the Donbas region, an invasion by Russian troops (“volunteers”) claiming to “protect” Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent against discrimination and “threat” which did not exist...
What the world needs to comprehend is that, which the people of Ukraine have known for generations: “Heroes do not die!” (“Heroyi ne vmirayut!”) They live on in the collective memory of the nation and give rise to future heroes who will continue to stand firm in “truth”. I ask all of you to remember that such heroism is never wasted or useless. It reaches not only the minds of the nation’s population but the minds of the world – in particular the commandants, “unidentified” invaders and even the presidents who refuse to accept the new world reality and want to recreate empires. They speak to proclaim: “we will not die!” No longer will you be free to murder millions of us through starvation, by freezing us during long cold winters or dropping your abundance of destructive bombs. Beneath all the attempts to wipe the Ukrainian nation out of existence and off the world map, the Ukrainian self-identity has survived and always resulted in the rebirth of a stronger nation. “Heroes do not die!”
Finally, the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as well as the entire congregation in attendance, responded to the call of Archbishop Daniel’s prayerful exclamation: “In blessed repose, grant o Lord, eternal rest to the souls of the innocent victims – the heroes of the "Heavenly Hundred", and those that have offered their lives in the service of our ancestral homeland Ukraine – and make their Memory Eternal – Vichna Pamyat!” All prayerfully, with the lowered flads of the United States of America, Ukraine and the people of Crimea, chanted – VICHNA PAMYAT – MEMORY ETERNAL!
Memorial candles were lit!
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan