Last week we posted a blog about Ukrainian Independence Day. See the post for historical context and traditions that typically take place on this very important day. As we noted in the blog post, this year August 24th was significant for two reasons: it marked not only Ukrainian Independence Day, but tragically it also marked 6-months to the day that Russia launched its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

Unfurling of the Ukrainian Flag

Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine in New York recognized Ukrainian Independence Day with several events held across the city, one of which took place in Central Park. It was a beautiful evening in NYC as hundreds of people gathered together on the lawn at Sheep Meadow. The crowd was there to show support for Ukraine, joining together for the unfurling of a massive blue and gold Ukrainian flag. The event was organized by Razom For Ukraine.

Most of the people in the crowd came dressed for the occasion, either sporting Ukrainian blue and gold clothes, traditional Ukrainian embroidered blouses, or t-shirts with Ukrainian symbols. There were also people in the crowd wearing the traditional Ukrainian flower crown, while others wrapped themselves in Ukrainian flags.

As you might expect, the mood was more somber than festive. The crowd demonstrated its solidarity as most people held a small end of the massive Ukrainian flag and helped to unfurl it. Together they chanted ‘Slava Ukraini’ (‘Glory To Ukraine’) and then the crowd broke out in song, singing the Ukrainian national anthem. Watch the video below. It was a beautiful moment and so appropriate given the lyrics.

Ukraine has not yet perished

Ukraine’s national anthem is ‘Shche ne vmerla Ukrayina’, which translates into English as ‘Ukraine has not yet perished’. The lyrics for the national anthem come from a patriotic poem written by Pavlo Chubynsky in 1862. A musical score was written a year later by Mykhailo Verbytsky, a Ukrainian composer and Catholic priest. The song is filled with themes of hope and desire of Ukrainians to rule their own land. And the chorus declares a resolute commitment to Ukrainians putting their lives on the line for freedom.

After Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the briefly independent Ukrainian National Republic adopted the song as the national anthem before falling under Soviet rule. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. the song was officially adopted as the state anthem by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on January 15, 1992, which coincided with Ukraine’s renewed independence. But there was some controversy around the state song at the time. Many Ukrainians were unhappy with the pessimistic tone of the song, so the newly installed Ukrainian parliament pushed to have the lyrics revised.  Several contests for revised lyrics were sponsored, but in the end the lyrics were only modestly changed.

The lyrics of the anthem are as follow:

[Latin Transliteration]

Shche ne vmerla Ukrayiny, ni slava, ni volya,
Shche nam, brattya molodiyi, usmikhnet’sya dolya.
Zhinut’ nashi vorizhen’ki, yak rosa na sontsi,
Zapanuyem i mi, brattya, u svoyiy storontsi.

Dushu y tilo mi polozhim za nashu svobodu
I pokazhem, shcho mi, brattya, kozats’koho rodu
(repeat previous two lines)

[Official Ukrainian]

Ще не вмерла України і слава, і воля,
Ще нам, браття молодії, усміхнеться доля
Згинуть наші воріженьки, як роса на сонці
Запануєм і ми, браття, у своїй сторонці
Душу й тіло ми положим за нашу свободу,
І покажем, що ми, браття, козацького роду

[English Translation]

Ukraine is not yet dead, nor its glory and freedom,
Luck will still smile on us brother-Ukrainians.
Our enemies will die, as the dew does in the sunshine,
and we, too, brothers, we’ll live happily in our land.
We’ll not spare either our souls or bodies to get freedom
and we’ll prove that we brothers are of Kozak kin.