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Holodomor Memorial

Holodomor Memorial


On November 7-8, 2015, the Holodomor Memorial opened in Washington DC. The Holodomor was a man-made famine ordered by the Russian communist, Joseph Stalin, that occurred in Ukraine from the years 1932-1933. Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe, and is the sixth largest nation in the world (based on population) with 42,566,512 people currently living there. Thousands showed up to this memorial, and I was among them. I, along with other members of my Ukrainian Heritage School, travelled by bus to Washington, leaving at 8am and returning just after 10pm. Upon arrival, we were given pins with the symbol representing the famine, a piece of wheat, and were giving candles to light. Many brought Ukrainian flags (the colors being blue, for the sky, and yellow, for the fields of wheat) to wrap around themselves. We sang both the American National Anthem, as well as Ukraine's anthem “Ще не вмерла Україна,” (pronounced Shche ne vmerla Ukraina) meaning “Ukraine is not dead yet”. Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, could not attend the memorial’s commencement, but his wife, Maryna, was able to attend. I had the opportunity to stand just a few feet away from her as she spoke to reporters about the importance of this memorial. There were several speakers present and each, whether American or Ukrainian, spoke out about the significance of this event, and how they supported those fighting the current war in Ukraine.


On April 6, 2014, in the Ukrainian region of Donbas, the current war with Russia began. Since then, over 6,000 people have died due to gunshot wounds, bombs, as well as other military weapons. Ukraine has had a long history fighting for their land. We are a country primarily made up of fertile steppes and have an abundance of several, valuable, natural resources such as: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, and timber. Our culture is as rich as our land. Our love of music, dance, fashion, food, and craftsmanship has granted us recognition from nations all over the world. We have one item of clothing that is particularly significant within our culture- that is the vyshyvanka: a shirt that is embroidered and considered a “peasant blouse” is the most highly regarded article of clothing to the Ukrainian people. These shirts were worn at the memorial, as well as on the Euromaidan (the name of the demonstrations taken place all over Ukraine). This memorial is so important to us, because it shows the Ukrainians fighting in our homeland that they are not dying in vain.


Our love for our country is the only reason for our persecution. This kind of oppression has been seen in all different nations across the world throughout history. The Jewish people were at the center of oppression in the 1930s to 1940s. Christians, Muslims, the Irish, and the Chinese to name a few have also been shunned and heavily abused just for being themselves. This memorial shows the world, those in denial of Ukraine’s existence, and all those who are trying to eradicate Ukraine’s existence, that we remember what was done and it will never be forgotten. Over 10 million people died during the Holodomor famine, and that is no small task- it was planned, and it was executed.


When I attended the opening of the memorial on the November 7, it was truly a sight to see. All these people, friends or strangers, sang the anthem together, we stood together, we thanked the greater being in this world that we are alive right now, that we can speak the truth, that we have people in Ukraine and in America fighting for us and that we are not forgotten. We are not fighting a war to win, we are fighting a war to survive. We did not ask for this, this was thrust upon us and those who died in the past, those who are dying right now, and those who will die for Ukraine in the future must not give up their lives for a lost cause. Children have lost parents, siblings, and friends. These parents have lost their children because those children fought back. They didn’t stand on the sidelines asking for help, they got together and they fought for their freedom with no fear, only a determination to free their beloved country once again. That is why this memorial is crucial to us: it is bringing attention not only to past offenses, but it is bringing to light the war going on at the moment!


‘But we cannot rely on memorials and museums alone. We can tell ourselves we will never forget and we likely won't. But we need to make sure that we teach history to those who never had the opportunity to remember in the first place.”

-Dan Rather


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(The outside entrance to the landing where everyone stood listening to speakers before walking to the monument)


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(Many people brought signs to the opening)



(A girl by the name of Yuliya Stupen who is a former student at the Ukrainian Heritage School in Jenkintown, sang the American and the Ukrainian National Anthem)



(This was the pin that was given out at the opening)


(Where I stood, just a few feet away from Maryna Poroshenko, the president’s wife, while she spoke to reporters in front of the memorial.)



(Maryna Poroshenko giving a speech at the podium at the front of the platform)


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(The actual Holodomor memorial located near the U.S.Capitol)


pani poroshenko

(Maryna Poroshenko kneeling in front of the memorial praying)

(These are all video montages of the current situation in Ukraine)

(All these links have more information about the memorial, how to help the Ukrainians that are in war right now, as well as some side facts about the Ukrainian culture)



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