Less than two hours after a joint session of the U.S. Congress met at 1 p.m. on January 6, a violent mob opposed to Congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election attacked, overtook and ransacked the U.S. Capitol building. The import of this moment cannot be overstated or dismissed. Throughout the history of the United States of America, this building has fallen only once before. On August 24, 1814, a British force led by Major General Robert Ross set fire to the Capitol before finally taking it over. For more than 206 years since that day, this building has stood as an iconic beacon of American democracy. It has been called a citadel of liberty.
Writing in a recent Facebook post about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our lives, Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak succinctly captured how these past nine months have affected our mental health and well-being. “We yearn for hope, normalcy, freedom, eager to exhale, unwrap our wings, and break out from the confinement. Many pray just to survive,” the archbishop wrote on December 23.
It has certainly been a difficult year for most, if not all, of us. As we look back over the past year and reflect on 2020, we share Archbishop Gudziak’s perspective that this time of year is also an opportunity to reflect more deeply on our lives, on our relationships with one another, and on our own well-being.
Following the conclusion of a preliminary investigation that has taken more than six years to complete, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said on December 11 that there is enough evidence for the court to open a full investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated throughout the course of the war in eastern Ukraine.
The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, noted that the preliminary investigation, which began on April 24, 2014, was thorough, independent, and had found enough evidence for the court to open a full investigation. “My office has concluded that there is a reasonable basis at this time to believe that a broad range of conduct constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed in the context of the situation in Ukraine,” Ms. Bensouda said in her statement, referring to the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine that has now claimed more than 13,000 lives since the conflict began in 2014.
It should go without saying that organizing and running large-scale fundraising events and gala celebrations for our community organizations is a challenge even in the best of times. But to hold these events virtually in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a feat that deserves recognition and our kudos.
There are several recent examples that readily come to mind, although there are many more that deserve to be mentioned.
On December 6 the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America held a gala celebration to mark the organization’s 95th anniversary. That event raised more than $36,000, and UNWLA officials estimate that more than 1,200 people joined the live video feed from across North America to watch the festivities, which were “a celebration of the generations of unique Ukrainia-American women who, quietly and without much fanfare, have accomplished so much over the decades.”
Forty-three years is, indeed, a serious chunk of time. And it is even more certainly an impossible task to encapsulate the impact Roma Hadzewycz has had on this newspaper, which has been published without fail – without ever missing an issue – for 87 years.
Many newspapers never made it that long. The list of newspapers that have been published for 87 years – and that are still published today – is even smaller. This list will likely shrink further as more and more newspapers across the globe cease publication of their physical editions.
In this context, The Ukrainian Weekly’s legacy should command our respect.
Back on July 31, I formally gave notice that I would be retiring as editor-in-chief of The Ukrainian Weekly and Svoboda, the Ukrainian National Association’s two official publications, as of December 1. That time has now come. This is my last issue. As I write this farewell, I am filled with sadness, but also with appreciation and pride for the work the UNA’s newspapers have done and, I have no doubt, will continue to do.
Forty-three years is a serious chunk of time to fit into 70-plus lines in an editorial… It’s an impossible task. Let me just say that during those more than four decades at The Weekly, and the last 13 at Svoboda as well, our editorial staffs produced issues every week without fail in a most professional manner. We met our deadlines no matter what – whether it be the nuclear accident at Chornobyl in 1986 or the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on 9/11 in 2001, the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005 or the Euro-Maidan/Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014.
International Holodomor Memorial Day is on November 28, but the entire month of November is considered to be a time to remember the millions of our kinsmen deliberately killed in the genocidal famine of 1932-1933 by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his henchmen.
A major commemoration of the Holodomor, or more precisely, the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of the Holodomor Memorial in Washington, was already held on November 7. Featured were remarks by Ukrainian and U.S. officials, and diplomats from Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Hungary; information about the Holodomor and the striking memorial in Washington designed by architect Larysa Kurylas; as well as photos from the unveiling itself back in 2015, which was attended by thousands from across the United States. There were also comments by diaspora leaders, including Ukrainian World Congress President Paul Grod, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America President Andriy Futey, and Michael Sawkiw Jr., chairman of the U.S. Holodomor Committee.
With much of the mainstream media focused on the 2020 presidential election results, a lesser-known candidate for U.S. Congress made history.
In a Facebook post, Andriy Futey, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, stated: “For the first time in history, there will be a Ukrainian-born in the U.S. Congress. Congratulations to Ms. Victoria Spartz on her election to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 5th District of Indiana. She hails from the town of Nosivka, Chernihiv Oblast, and has lived in Indiana since 2000. We wish her much success and look forward to building a strong working relationship with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the entire Ukrainian American community.”