Forty-five years ago, on September 19, 1976, a monument bust of Ukrainian poetess Lesia Ukrainka was unveiled at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center.
During the unveiling ceremonies, attended by more than 2,000 people, Natalka Chuma recited a verse from the poem “Contra Spem Spero” by Ukrainka. “Up the steep pathway on the rocky flinty hill, I’ll bear my rocky burden all day long. And though I carry such a load, I still shall keep my heart and sing a happy song.”
Created by sculptor Mykhailo Czereshniowsky, the bronze bust sits atop a granite base, superimposed on a rock near the Vorokhta building, opposite a bust of Taras Shevchenko that was created by sculptor Alexander Archipenko. The erection of the monument was overseen by Mary Dushnyck, vice president of the Ukrainian National Association, who was chairperson of its women’s committee that undertook the project. UNA Supreme Advisor Anna Haras introduced other members of the committee that included Dr. Anne Chopek, Tekla Moroz, Maria Demydchuk-Czuczman and UNA Treasurer Ulana Diachuk (who was not present, as she was attending a UNA District Committee meeting in Chicago).
Following a spontaneous singing of the U.S. national anthem, Ms. Dushnyck opened the festivities and welcomed Prof. Isydora Kosach-Barysova, Lesia Ukrainka’s sister, and all guests. Prof. Borysova, assisted by Ms. Dushnyck and UNA President Joseph Lesawyer, together unveiled the monument and cut a blue-and-yellow ribbon. Prof. Borysova also sprinkled the monument with soil brought from Ukraine.
As part of the unveiling, the Rev. Ivan Mak of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kerhonkson, N.Y., the Rev. Dr. Bohdan Woloshyn, the Very Rev. Artemy Selepyna, head of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., and the Rev. Joseph Lukaszewycz, each sprinkled the monument with holy water.
Dr. Larissa M.L. Onyshkevych, principal speaker at the ceremony, reminded the guests that, “Lesia Ukrainka herself never compromised her principles, nor her talents, nor values; she never dimmed the light nor the intensity of her own fire – whatever situations she had to face in life. Thus her message is doubly relevant today.”
The afternoon celebrations included a concert program with performances by Moloda Dumka of New York (a boys and girls choir), a female vocal quintet, recitations by Iwanna Kononiw and Ms. Chuma and a girls septet from the Taras Shevchenko School of Ukrainian Studies in Lachine, Quebec, (accompanied by Andrij Harasymovych of the band Rushnychok).
The ceremonies were attended by various Ukrainian diaspora organizations, representatives of the World Committee to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Lesia Ukrainka’s Birth and the Ukrainian Bicentennial Committee of America.
Mr. Lesawyer thanked Prof. Borysova, the clergy, performers and guests for taking part in the ceremonies. Mr. Czereczniowsky was unable to attend, Mr. Lesawyer added, due to illness. The gathered concluded the unveiling ceremonies with the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lesia Ukrainka.
Source: “Lesia Ukrainka monument unveiled at Soyuzivka,” The Ukrainian Weekly, September 26, 1976.