75th Anniversary -Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor
Commemoration Committee - Chicago
"HOLODOMOR"- Ukrainian term for "death by starvation"
Ukrainians refer to the Genocide of 1932-1933 as the Holodomor. The term "genocide" was not introduced into language until 1947.
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Chicagoland International Holodomor Remembrance Flame Torch Relay
Wrigley Square in Millennium Park
Saturday, May 10, 2008
International Holodomor Remembrance Flame Illuminates Chicago’s Millennium Park
On Saturday, May 10, 2008 over seven hundred Ukrainian-Americans gathered at Chicago’s Wrigley Square in Millennium Park to greet the
International Holodomor Remembrance Flame as it arrived from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Millennium Park is located directly across the street from the Chicago Cultural Center and is situated on one of Chicago’s busiest and most famous
streets – Michigan Avenue. The wide open space, towering Grecian columns and large reflecting pool of Wrigley Square served as a fitting location to
hold such a somber public event.
The Torch Relay at Millennium Park was coordinated by the Chicago Committee to Commemorate the Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor 1932-1933. The
Co-Chairs of the event were Lida Tkaczuk, Maria Klimchak and Natalia Jarowyj.
Nine buses were chartered by Selfreliance Ukrainian-American Federal Credit Union to help bring Ukrainian School students, parents, clergy and
seniors to Millennium Park. Buses transported participants up from the Ukrainian American Youth Association Ukrainian School (CYM) in Palatine, St.
Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Ukrainian School in Bloomingdale, St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral and School, St. Nicholas
Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral and School, the Ukrainian Cultural Center and Selfreliance Ukrainian-American Federal Credit Union Chicago Avenue
The morning of the Torch Relay Wrigley Square was awash with children and adults in Ukrainian embroidery and waiving Ukrainian flags, including one
stretching over 50 feet in length. Students held banners and signs with facts about the Ukrainian Genocide throughout the Square and along Michigan
Avenue so that pedestrians and vehicular traffic could see. Some of the banners read: “Holodomor – Genocide by Forced Starvation”, “Ukrainian
Genocide – 75 Years of Silence is enough!” and “Holodomor – Ukrainian Genocide: 10 Million Murdered”.
The Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation – USA, with the assistance of Mrs. Laryssa Matusiak, took the opportunity to distribute over five hundred
educational brochures about the Ukrainian Genocide to pedestrians walking along Millennium Park. May passers-by stopped to observe the Torch
Relay and to learn more about the Ukrainian Genocide.
At eleven in the morning Ms. Lida Tkaczuk, Mistress of Ceremonies, officially began the Torch Relay. The program began with a Presentation of Colors
by Ukrainian American Veterans and the singing of the Ukrainian and American National Anthems by the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church Choir
under the direction of Mr. Taras Rudenko.
Bishop Richard Seminak of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy led the crowd in prayer following the singing of the National Anthems.
Nestor Popowych, Chairman of the Chicago Committee to Commemorate the Ukrainian Genocide-Holodomor of 1932-1933, then read an official
greeting from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Mayor Daley conveyed: “Commemorating the victims of a dark chapter of history, today’s event offers
profound lessons and empower people to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference in the world. Chicago shares a close Sister City relationship with
Kyiv, highlighted by a strong history of cultural exchange, and this occasion offers everyone an opportunity to strengthen our bonds of friendship and
Ukrainian Congress Committee of America – Illinois Division President Paul Bandriwsky read greetings and a proclamation from Illinois Governor Rod
Blagojevich. Governor Blagojevich proclaimed May 10th, 2008 Ukrainian Genocide Remembrance Day in Illinois.
Illinois State Representative John Fritchey greeted the crowd. Representative Fritchey along with Illinois State Representative Paul Froehlich and Illinois
State Senator Jacqueline Collins co-sponsored an Illinois genocide education bill which was passed into law two years ago.
State Law now requires that Illinois public schools not only teach the Nazi Holocaust, but also the Armenian, Ukrainian, Cambodian, Bosnian, Rwandan
and Sudanese genocides as part of their genocide curriculum. Representative Fritchey stated “The purpose of the law that we passed is to make sure
that every day is Ukrainian Genocide Remembrance Day and that our students throughout the City of Chicago, throughout the State of Illinois, and
throughout this country will never forget what happened.”
Representative Fritchey is committed to expanding Ukrainian Genocide awareness and government recognition of the Holodomor as genocide not only
in Illinois, but nationwide.
Following Representative Fritchey’s speech, John Jaresko, President of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bloomingdale, delivered the keynote
address. Mr. Jaresko, the great-grandson of Ukrainian Genocide Victims, spoke about how Joseph Stalin used food as a political weapon to
systematically murder over 10 million innocent Ukrainian men, women and children.
At the conclusion of Mr. Jaresko’s speech Nicholas Kotcherha of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation – USA lit the International Holodomor
Remembrance Flame Torch. He gave the Torch to Marika Klymchak and Natalia Jarowyj who carried the Torch into Wrigley Square before handing it
off to Consulate General Korzachenko.
Consulate General Korzachenko accepted the eternal flame of the International Holodomor Remembrance Torch and declared “It is our hope to keep
the Flame alive to help ensure that the story of the Genocide Holodomor is passed on from culture to culture, from generation to generation, from the
survivors to our youth.” He further stated, “Let the memory of the 10 million Victims of the Ukrainian Genocide help us, along with the cooperation of the
conscientious people of the world, to prevent the repeat of such a horrible tragedy from ever occurring again in history.”
Consulate General Korzachenko then gave the Torch to Ukrainian Genocide Survivor Kateryna Pietrzyk. Mrs. Pietrzyk was 9 years old when the
Ukrainian Genocide struck her village in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast of Ukraine. She lost two uncles and her grandmother during the Ukrainian Genocide
and has vivid memories of the horrors which surrounded her during the years of 1932 and 1933.
Mrs. Pietrzyk remembers her belly being bloated from the hunger. She survived by eating grass and dandelion weeds as there was nothing left in her
village to eat. Her father was taken away to Siberia and her family struggled to survive as many died around them. She remembers the corpses lying
out on the street because villagers were too weak to dig graves to bury them.
While Mrs. Pietrzyk held the torch Mr. Nicholas Mischenko, President of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation – USA initiated the spreading of the
International Holodomor Remembrance Flame. He raised a candle and declared “As the President of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation –
USA, I am lighting this flame to 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide perpetrated by Joseph Stalin and his Communist regime.”
Mr. Mischenko along with Consulate General Korzachenko and Mrs. Pietrzyk began to spread the International Holodomor Remembrance Flame to the
hundreds of candles which participants in Wrigley Square held during the Relay.
Torch Relay Co-Chair Maria Klimchak, host of “Ukrainian Wave” radio program on 1240AM lit a candle and proclaimed: “I, as a member of the Media
pass this flame on to all media/press in the world petitioning them never to be blind or deaf to any engineered famine or human torture. Be alert let the
world know the truth.”
During the spreading of the Flame, youth representatives of Ukrainian-American youth groups declared “We representatives from of Ukrainian Youth
Organizations – CYM, ODUM and PLAST accept this flame today with humility and pride. With it we will honor the victims of this horrific tragedy. We
will always remember. We light this flame for the Children who comprised 1/3of the Genocide victims and in memory of those children left orphaned and
Then students from St. Volodymyr Ukrainian School, St. Andrew Ukrainian School, CYM Palatine Ukrainian School and St. Nicholas School lit their
candles as Bohdana Bahrij, an 8th grader at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Cathedral School read a declaration. She stated: “In honor of mothers Day I light
this candle. Let this flame reach the hearts of all mothers, specifically those who starved to death in 1932-33 during the Genocide, those who suffered
and are survivors and those mothers who survived, but not their children. I pass on this eternal flame to all those mothers!“
Torch Relay Co-Chair and member of the Orange Wave, Natalia Jarowyj, lit her candle and declared: “May this Remembrance Flame always serve as а
reminder of the souls that we have lost. They have paid the final toll, but we will share their story, we will keep the flame alive in our hearts and pass it
on to our brothers and sisters in Detroit.”
Rev. Salkovski of Nativity of Benevolent Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Palos Park declared “We as clergy light this flame and pray that the
truth be known this was a forced, fabricated famine. Let food never be use food as a weapon against humanity.” Rev. Salkovski concluded the Torch
Relay by leading the crowd in singing Vichna Pam’yat (Memory Eternal) in honor of the over 10 Million Victims of the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-1933.
At the conclusion of the Torch Relay ceremony participants were given the opportunity to hold the Torch and reflect on the cultural significance of the
Ukrainian Genocide and the symbolic international journey of the Torch during the 75th anniversary year of the Ukrainian Genocide before the Torch
departed for Detroit, Michigan.
Photos of the Millennium Park Event and the Ukrainian Genocide Monument in Bloomingdale, IL Event are viewable by clicking the navigation bar below: