On May 24, 2010, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America will mark its 70th anniversary! As we mark this date in our history, let us reflect a moment upon the words of former U.S. President Richard Nixon who once said “A man who has never lost himself in a cause bigger than himself, has missed one of life’s mountaintop experiences.” .
How appropriate these words as we celebrate our 70th anniversary -- for it was our forefathers who, upon losing themselves in their cause -- freedom and justice for Ukraine -- found the strength and determination to call the first Congress of Ukrainians in America. Because of their passion and perseverance, they were able to gather all Ukrainian American organizations in our nation’s capital, and establish the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.
Regrettably, our founders are no longer with us today, but thanks to their powerful vision the UCCA continues to be guided by their founding mission -- to inform the world of the truth about Ukraine, to represent the interests of the Ukrainian American community and to honorably serve their new homeland, as responsible U.S. citizens. Their efforts have borne fruit, for today, the UCCA remains the largest Ukrainian umbrella organization in our nation.
Over the years, our organization has been blessed with many successes, too many to innumerate here, so below are just a few highlights.
In its early years, the UCCA worked for the enactment of the law admitting displaced persons from Europe, which was adopted by Congress in 1948 and resulted in over 100,000 Ukrainians being admitted into the United States; it published The Ukrainian Quarterly, the only English-language scholarly journal about Ukraine that is still in publication today, supported the establishment of Ukrainian language services at both the Voice of America and Radio Free Liberty; and initiated a Public Law within the House and Senate to erect a monument to Taras Shevchenko, the bard of Ukraine, which was unveiled in 1964 by former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C.
During the height of the Cold War, the UCCA spoke out against Soviet human rights violations and advocated for the liberation of Ukrainian intellectual, religious and political prisoners. It was also instrumental in authoring and promoting the Captive Nations Week Resolution (Public Law 86-90), which is still marked annually.
Then, following independence in 1991, the UCCA redirected its efforts toward supporting Ukraine’s democratic development and encouraging free-market reform while sustaining a vibrant Ukrainian community in the United States. It advocated for sustained support of U.S. foreign assistance to Ukraine under the Freedom Support Act; initiated the formation of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus; co-produced three feature films that illuminate chapters of Ukraine’s history long-buried by Soviet historians; conducted various international civic education programs including hosting over 2,400 International Election Observers to monitor the historic Orange Revolution elections; and advocated for a Resolution in Congress granting federal land in Washington, D.C. to erect a monument to the victims of Ukraine's Genocide of 1932-33.
These accomplishments and so many more, would not have been possible had it not been for the dedication of the UCCA leadership and its presidents – Mykola Murashko, Stepan Shumeyko, Dmytro Halychyn, Lev Dobriansky, Ignatius Bilinsky, Askold Lozynskyj, Michael Sawkiw and Tamara Olexy – who have guided this organization over the years.
The UCCA also owes a debt of gratitude to all of its supporters, especially the Ukrainian Federal Credit Unions. For without their continued generosity throughout the years of the UCCA’s existence, many of our projects would not have come to successful fruition.
But most importantly, on this 70th anniversary, let us rejoice in the UCCA’s many accomplishments and successes. Our foundation is strong and despite the challenges that we are sure to face in the future, we will persevere –because Great Deeds Require Great Efforts and - thankfully we too - have lost ourselves in OUR cause - and have made a difference, because our cause is a noble one, and the work within the UCCA, as former President Nixon state is indeed a mountaintop experience!
God Bless America - Slava Ukrainiyi!