10 August 2015
August 24th marks the 24th anniversary of Ukraine’s renewed independence, when in 1991 Ukraine’s Parliament valiantly proclaimed an end to the nation’s bondage and announced the promise of a free and democratic Ukraine; a promise that for all Ukrainians became a driving force in our existence.
This day has enormous significance for Ukrainians as for centuries the nation remained under the oppressive rule of foreign regimes, most notably the Russian Czarist Empire and later, the Soviet Union. The people of Ukraine endured cruel persecution, unspeakable hardships and garish attempts by the Russian czars and, later, the Soviets, to eradicate the nation of close to 50 million. During the Holodomor – the Famine-Genocide of 1932-33, 7-10 million Ukrainians were murdered when, in an attempt to destroy the nationally conscious Ukrainian peasantry, the Stalinist regime confiscated all food, leaving the people to starve to death. Countless others suffered in Soviet Gulags forced into backbreaking labor and unbearable conditions, only to perish in desolation. Ukrainians endured numerous purges, assaults and discrimination throughout history. And yet – they endured.