(From a press release)
On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, Ukrainian-Americans from the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley, and from communities large and small in central and northeast (the coal regions) of Pennsylvania gathered at their commonwealth’s Capitol, in Harrisburg, to dignify the mournful commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor-Genocide that befell Ukraine. It was a genocide perpetrated by the Stalin Bolshevik regime that Muscovy is now repeating through a brutal, criminal nine year war against her and her people.
Governor Josh Shapiro’s Proclamation and the Pennsylvania House and Senate Citations that were formally presented to the Ukrainian community on that day, all recognized November, 2023 as Holodomor-Genocide Remembrance Month. They also deemed the Soviet artificial terror-famine to be a genocide and emphatically drew a recidivist parallel to the horrific suffering that Ukraine is experiencing yet again at the blood-soaked hands of Muscovy.
Separate groups of Ukrainians went to the House and the Senate for formal introductions to the full Sessions and witnessed a presentation of the Resolutions. Immediately afterwards, the groups re-united at the Fountain Area of the Capitol where Andrij and Luba Chornodolsky had installed, for the week, a magisterial Pictorial Exhibition about the Holodomor.
Joined by Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery), Governor Shapiro’s representative, Kristine Paradise, and Representatives Liz Hannbidge (D-Lower Gwynedd), Melissa Cerrato (D-Horsham), Ben Sanchez (D-Abington), Steve Malagari (D-Lansdale), Mary Louise Isaackson (D-Philadelphia) and Nancy Guenst (D-Horsham), the group gathered in the adjacent and centrally located East Wing Rotunda for a formal public presentation of the governmental actions on the Holodomor.
Senate Resolution Co-sponsors, Sen. Art Haywood (Montgomery/Philadelphia) and Tracey Pennycuick (Montgomery/Berks) were away on legislative business, while Representatives Dane Watro (R-Hazelton), Joe Webster (D-Collegeville), and Ben Waxman (D-Philadelphia) had also personally met with the group earlier in the day.
After a moving Benediction by Very Rev. Roman Pitula, joined by Pastor Denis Sichkar and Very Rev. Roman Oliynyk, impassioned speeches by Senator Collett, Reps. Hannbidge and Malagari, Ukraine’s Honorary Consul Iryna Mazur, and Ms. Paradise riveted the audience.
Equally compelling were the words of Mr. Michael Sawkiw, Chair of the US Committee for Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness, and Ms. Ulana Mazurkevich. The former emphasized that, despite the passage of time, the atrocity of the Holodomor-Genocide cannot be forgotten; on the contrary, justice must still be served for the sake of the victims. The latter reminded the gathering that, in 1988, a formal US (Congressional) Commission on the Ukraine Famine had found and formally reported to Congress that the man-made famine was an act of genocide against the people of Ukraine carried out by the Soviets.
Eugene A. Luciw served as the event’s MC. The multi-talented Professor Paula Holoviak led the assembly in an appropriate noe internationally popular closing Ukrainian patriotic song: “Oy u Luzi”.
The collaborative efforts of Andrij Chornodolsky, Attorney Eugene A. Luciw, Ms. Ulana Mazurkevich, Mr. Michael Sawkiw, Professor Paula Holoviak and Ms. Marianna Tretiak, with many helping hands from the community made the entire program abundantly successful. What made the gathering more significant yet was the geographic diversity of the attendees and the fact that young people, students from Marian Catholic High School, in Tamaqua, PA, and from the Ukrainian American Youth Civics Club of the Philadelphia area’s Ukrainian Heritage School attended. They are studying civics and actively participating in political and community activism.