UCCA statement on 17th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster

On April 26, 1986, the entire world became acquainted with the fate of Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation as it endured the horrific realities of the world's worst nuclear disaster. Hundreds, if not thousands, lost their lives or suffered physical consequences as a result of the explosion. We are still counting the victims and learning the true consequences of Chornobyl's legacy.

There are no words to describe the damage and grief caused by this catastrophe. It is one of the many crimes of the Soviet government against the nations it occupied. Denial of the massive explosion at the fourth reactor of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant caused the sickness and deaths of innocent civilians, many of whom were children. The utter disregard of the Soviets led people to march in May Day demonstrations, take their children to school, go to work and live on as if nothing transpired.

People of Ukraine and everywhere in the world were numb with disbelief when the facts about Chornobyl were released years later. Ukraine has suffered many tragedies, wars, famines, ethnocide - but radiation, an unseen enemy, is eating away at the people's health and the future of Ukraine. Little can be done to combat its negative effects. Yet, Ukrainians have been weathered by history to be strong and resilient.

The world will live with the consequences of this disaster for thousands of years. Unfortunately, that is the length of time it will take the Chornobyl dead zone to recover and once again become habitable. The eeriness of this concept is hardly comprehensible - technology invented by people caused damage so severe that nothing in the history of humanity can compare. But it also gives us hope that we can invent technologies to remedy the consequences and recover the ancient land of Chornobyl and the rivers Prypiat and Dnipro for future generations.

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America calls upon all Americans of Ukrainian descent to hold memorial services to honor the memory of the innocent victims and courageous workers who sacrificed their lives to limit the effects of Chornobyl on the world. We must remember the horror, but not succumb to the tragedy. We must work to assist in recovering Ukraine from this dreadful wound. In this 17th year of Chornobyl, as we joyously celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God, let us also remember and pray for victims of the Chornobyl nuclear tragedy and unite in the common struggle to reclaim the land of Ukraine from this horrible tragedy.

On behalf the Executive Committee of the UCCA:

Michael Sawkiw, Jr.

Marie Duplak
Executive Director

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 27, 2003, No. 17, Vol. LXXI

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