Ukrainian Weekly - September 5, 2004
FACES AND PLACES
by Myron B. Kuropas
Remembering the Famine again and again
How often should we in the United States commemorate the 1932-1933 Famine-Genocide in Ukraine which killed
over 7 million people? Every year? Once every 10 years? Once every 20 years?
How should we remember it? With religious services? With a solemn demonstration? With a memorial
observance? With a "holodniy obid"? With publications that increase American awareness?
Who should we invite to our commemorations? Only our own people? Other ethnic leaders? Government officials?
When it comes to the "how" of remembering, the answer for The Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation -
USA, Inc. is "all of above." As for how often, the reply is "every year."
This year's memorial commemoration is scheduled for Sunday, September 19, at 1 p.m. at the St. Andrew's
Ukrainian Orthodox Church Cultural Center at 300 E. Army Trail Road, Bloomington, Ill. A community-wide event,
the commemoration will be preceded by a divine liturgy and a panakhyda (memorial service) in the church.
A procession of organizational representatives, led by Famine survivors, will lay commemorative black ribbons on
the Famine monument that stands on the church grounds. Remarks by Katya Mischenko-Mycyk in English and
Andrij Kryvko in Ukrainian will follow.
The commemoration will end with a traditional "holodnyi obid" in the church hall.
Headquartered in Chicago, the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation was formally incorporated in 2003.
People associated with the foundation, however, began working together in 1983 and were instrumental in
organizing the annual commemoration that same year.
Much was done in 1983, the 50th anniversary of the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine. A group of local activists,
primarily Orthodox, came together to raise money for the continuation of the U.S. Ukraine Famine Commission's
work. The late Dr. James Mace came to Chicago to help with the fund-raising.
A curriculum guide for teachers was developed and for the first time a workshop was held in the Ukrainian Village.
Some 100 Chicago-area public school teachers attended the all-day session, receiving one hour of graduate
credit from Northern Illinois University. Included in the package was a Ukrainian-style luncheon.
The curriculum guide was later presented to teachers in Detroit and Newark, N.J. The guide has been reproduced
recently by the Ukrainian National Association and was offered to teachers for one-hour graduate credit by the
University of Denver. The foundation plans to organize more workshops for teachers in the Chicago area this
Rep. Paul Froehlich and Sen. Bradley Burzynski of the Illinois State Legislature have been approached with
requests to sponsor legislation that would make teaching about the Ukraine Famine-Genocide part of the state
A permanent memorial/monument fund also was initiated in 1983. Ten years later, the monument, the work of
Kyivan sculptor Anatolij Kush, was unveiled. All segments of Chicago's Ukrainian American community contributed
to the fund.
A well-known Ukrainian who has worked closely with the commemoration committee is Ukrainian activist-patriot
and former ambassador to Canada Lev Lukianenko. He was the Ukrainian speaker at the commemoration in 2001
and the foundation has since sponsored the printing of Mr. Lukianenko's book, "Nuremberg II," some 6,000
copies of which have been distributed throughout Ukraine. Currently the foundation is funding the printing of
100,000 pamphlets on the Famine-Genocide for distribution in Ukraine prior to the election.
This year the foundation has also sponsored a Famine-Genocide essay contest for students at the National
University of Ostroh Academy. Student names were withheld so that the essays could be judged on their merits by
members of the Foundation. Winners will be announced at the September commemoration. A suggestion has
been made to sponsor the top essayist for a fund-raising tour of the United States in the spring.
The work of the foundation is only the beginning. More needs to be done by Ukrainian communities throughout
America to acquaint Americans with Ukraine's Famine/ Genocide. A good beginning is to contact local universities
and colleges to generate interest in a Famine-Genocide workshop. There's a good fit here. Teachers are always
looking for ways to upgrade their credentials, and universities are always interested in helping teachers do so.
We have some good examples to emulate in this regard. Thanks to Dr. Bohdan Vitvitsky, the New York State
Department of Education included material on the Ukraine Famine-Genocide in Volume III of its Holocaust
curriculum. Before this happened, however, Ukrainians had to overcome strong resistance from left-wing scholars
and various Jewish groups who were outraged at the very idea of a Ukrainian inclusion in a Holocaust curriculum
that did not mention Ukrainian "war crimes." The Ukrainian American community launched an intensive and
ultimately successful letter-writing campaign to the Board of Regents to have the Famine-Genocide curriculum
That is the kind of dedication and perseverance that will get our community to where it needs to be. What was
done in the state of New York can be done elsewhere with the right people leading the way.
We're making inroads. Go to the Google search engine and type in Ukrainian Famine and you will find a number
of websites, most accurate, others produced by Famine deniers who call our efforts a "hoax." Our detractors are
still out there.
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