Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union

A Poignant Commemoration Against Backdrop of Renewed Russian Aggression

UNITED NATIONS — Taras Shevchenko’s profound talent proved once again everlasting and universal as the bicentennial of his birth was celebrated at the United Nations on March 27. The 500-seat ECOSOC Chamber was filled with guests as UN officials and ambassadors, NGO representatives, members of the Ukrainian community and friends of Ukraine gathered at UN headquarters in New York City.

Speaking at the event, Orysia Sushko, President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, noted, “The celebration of Shevchenko’s bicentennial takes on an especially poignant significance today in the face of renewed aggression on Ukraine’s young independence and territorial sovereignty. We of Ukrainian heritage very much need, in this time of crisis, to come together with our true neighbors and friends as we have today. And we need to share with you our devotion to the vision of Taras Shevchenko, whose life was so deeply rooted in love of homeland, respect for mother tongue, and advocacy for human dignity. We want to put a spotlight on Shevchenko as we understand and experience him – as an early champion of the core values that are at the very center of the United Nations Charter.”

The bard, no doubt, would have been deeply distressed but not shocked by the turn of events in Ukraine as a modern Russia, in the mold of the 19th century Russian Empire he knew well, continues a relentless effort to break Ukrainian independence and resolve. Also on March 27, only hours before the beginning of the bicentennial commemoration, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Russia’s actions against Ukraine, including the invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign territory in Crimea, and a dubious referendum uniting the peninsula with Russia.

When planning for the bicentennial first began, the occasion of International Mother Language Day, celebrated annually at the United Nations on February 21, was seen as an appropriate event with which to unite the celebration of the poet’s birth. The event, titled “Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861): Champion of the Ukrainian Language, Self-Determination of Peoples, Human Rights and Social Justice” was scheduled originally for February 27; however, the horrific bloodshed on Maidan in Kyiv on February 18-20 required a postponement.

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