Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ukrainian Americans mourn fallen hero - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Mark Gregory Paslawsky, 55, the son of Ukrainian immigrants who was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey, was killed Aug. 19 near Donetsk, Ukraine, while fighting Russian-supported terrorists as a member of the volunteer battalion “Donbas” with the nom de guerre “Franko.” He was the only known American who fought alongside Ukrainian forces against terrorists sent by Russian president Putin (which he vehemently denies) who managed to seize several cities and towns in the eastern part of Ukraine next to
the Ukrainian-Russian border.

    Even though Paslawsky was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, with an active military service as a U.S. Army Ranger, he decided to volunteer to join the Ukrainian Army and to serve in Donbas as a private following the Russian occupation of
Crimea and subsequent staging by Russian operatives, some of whom were actively involved in the annexation of Crimea, the “separatist” reign of terror in the eastern part of Ukraine.

    Paslawsky moved to Ukraine shortly after the restoration of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, as did several other Ukrainian Americans and Ukrainian Canadians, to teach, establish businesses or help in any other capacity in the development of a free market and democratic institutions in free Ukraine. He worked as an investment banker and adviser in Kyiv, Kharkiv,
and Moscow.

    Approximately one week before his death, Paslawsky’s interview recorded by VICE News was made available on YouTube and was seen by many Ukrainian Americans who kept guessing who Donbas private Franko really was. In the interview, “Franko” said that he took Ukrainian citizenship shortly before he joined the Donbas battalion so that he could “fight as a Ukrainian.”

    His older brother Nestor Paslawsky; his uncle Taras Hunczak, a retired professor of Rutgers University; other relatives and his former friends from West Point; and the entire Ukrainian American community are proud of him but saddened by his death. It is the custom in Ukraine since the “Revolution of Dignity” (November 2013-February 2014) to
salute heroes with “Slava Ukrayini! — Heroyi Ne Vmyrayut!” (Glory to Ukraine! — Heroes do not die!)
                                                   • • •
    The raising of the Ukrainian national flag alongside the U.S. “Star Spangled Banner” in front of the North Port City Hall by members of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, and the reading of the North Port City Commission
proclamation designating “Ukrainian Independence Commemorating Day,” took place last Friday.

    The Post 40 veterans were led by post commander Eugene

A. Tomashosky, with UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron. The national anthems, American and Ukrainian, were played and sung by those in attendance.

    The invocation by the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, pastor of North Port’s Ukrainian Catholic congregation, was followed by Mayor Jim Blucher reading the proclamation, with Commissioner Linda Yates standing next to him. Commander Tomashosky thanked the City Commission for the proclamation and spoke briefly about the significance of the 23rd anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence. Daria Tomashosky, president of the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, read the English translation of the 100-year-old-plus Ukrainian national anthem, “Shche Ne Vmerla Ukrayiny” (Glory and freedom of Ukraine did not perish).

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians Atanas Kobryn  

PHOTO PROVIDED Mark Paslawsky, 55, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, was killed Aug. 19 near Donetsk, Ukraine.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Independence of Ukraine commemorations set

     The 23rd anniversary of the restoration of the independence of Ukraine will be commemorated worldwide this weekend. The,,,,Hamaliasouth@aol.fcom,,,,,,,,,,d “commemorate” is being used instead of “celebrate,” which is not quite appropriate this year due to the ongoing struggle with the terrorists in one segment of Ukraine. There are casualties of both military personnel and civilians, which include women and children who are being murdered by the terrorists who have been trained by and in Russia and are being supplied by Russia with armaments and trained personnel.

    The North Port and Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community will gather at 8 a.m. Friday for the raising of the Ukrainian national flag, together with our American national flag, by members of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans in front
of North Port City Hall.

    The Ukrainian Independence Commemoration Proclamation, issued by the North Port City Commission at its July 28 meeting, will be read after the opening ceremonies, which will include, following the raising of the flags, the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing/playing of the two national anthems, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Ukrainian “Shche Ne Vmerla Ukrayiny” (Ukraine’s glory and freedom did not die), and a few remarks by some dignitaries.

    The North Port mayor, commissioners and other city officials are expected to attend this brief
ceremony. Obviously, this ceremony is open to all.

    Romana Harasymiak Guran, president of the Coordinating Committee of Ukrainian American organizations of North Port and vicinity, sponsor of this ceremony, is asking Ukrainian American participants to wear the traditional Ukrainian embroidered attire (shirts, blouses, ties, etc.). Members of UAV Post 40 are being asked to wear their summer uniform (white shirt, gray trousers and veterans cap) with blue scarves.

    On Sunday, there will be special “Molebens” (brief prayer services) at the conclusion of the regular Sunday liturgies (Masses) at both North Port churches, St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center and St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. All are invited to attend these services.

                                                              • • •

    Tuesday, the Ukrainian Christians celebrated
Transfiguration of Our Lord, commonly known as “Spas.” In addition to the celebration of this unique event in the life of our Lord, the Ukrainian faithful bring fruits to the churches, which is blessed in a special brief ceremony at the conclusion of the divine liturgy (Mass).

    I remember from my childhood days in my native village Yakubova Volya (Jacob’s Freedom) in Ukraine that many older, pious people, including
my saintly foster grandparents, Ilko and Kateryna Ivanishak, would not eat any fruit until after the blessing at the church on the Transfiguration of Our Lord holiday. One of the reasons I remember this so vividly is because they deprived themselves from eating very delicious
apples from a couple of trees, planted and groomed by my father, whose fruits ripened already in June and were not available by August.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun.

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another exhibit by a local artist

    Ukrainian girls, as well as Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian daughters and granddaughters of Ukrainian immigrants, are exposed at an early age to art. The distinctly feminine art of Ukrainian Easter eggs known as “pysanky” (from the word “pysaty,” to write), known to have been in use by the ancestors of present-day Ukrainians millennia ago, are taught to girls at a young age in Ukraine and in North America. The art of embroidery, which is an important component of much of the formal attire of both Ukrainian men and women and as home decorative items (embroidered pillows, ritual and decorative towels, etc.) are also taught to girls starting at a young age. Most women continue to pursue one or both of these art forms until their advanced years, when their eyesight and/or arthritis force them to stop.

    Some men also become quite efficient in these traditionally feminine art forms, but their numbers are very small indeed.

    Some women turn to the more “traditional” forms of art, including painting, and often become very good artists. One of these women is Anya Rejnarowycz, a member of the North Port Branch 56 of the
Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port, and the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida. She is taking part in an art exhibit titled “Diametrically Opposed” at the Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.

    The exhibit opened last Friday and runs through Aug. 29. For information, call the gallery at 239-939-2787 or visit www.ArtInLee. org.

    Anya’s father, Lev Rejnarowycz (1914-1987), was a famous Ukrainian opera singer and a great musical force in mid-20th century Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian communities. The 100th Anniversary Gala honoring Lev Rejnarowycz will take place Sept. 7 in Lviv, Ukraine, where he was born and where, in the Lviv Opera, he starred in numerous operas until he was forced to flee with his family from the advancing Russian Communist Army during
World War II.
                                                   • • •

    This Friday, Ukrainians in Ukraine and throughout the world will commemorate the 158th anniversary of the birth of one of the giants of Ukrainian literature, the author, scholar, journalist, poet and political activist Ivan Franko (1856-1916). Having earned his Ph.D.
at Vienna (Austria) University, Franko gained pre-eminence among Ukrainian writers at the end of the 19th century. He wrote dramas, lyrical poems, short stories, essays, and children’s verse and stories, but most noteworthy are his novels chronicling contemporary Ukrainian society in the then-Austrian empire,
and more than 40 long poems, some of which became very popular — for example, “Ne Pora” (It’s not the time), which was sung immediately following the singing of the national anthem, “Kamenyari” (stone crushers), “Moysey” (Moses), and others.

                                                    • • •

    The commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the restoration of
Ukraine’s independence will include the raising of the Ukrainian flag in front of North Port City Hall on Aug. 22, and “Molebens” (special prayers) in Ukrainian churches on Aug. 24. More details in next week’s column.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at 

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Active community member also an artist

      One of the participants in an outstanding art event, the First Friday Art Walk at the historic Roswell Art District in Roswell, Ga., was Pat Zalisko, active member of North Port Branch 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America and of the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in North Port. Pat Zalisko’s artwork was exhibited last Friday at Muse & Co. Fine Art, one of several galleries in the art district.

    On the first Friday evening of every month, the eight galleries of the Roswell Art District, including Muse & Co., open their doors to self-guided, walkable
tours of art exhibits, art talks and music at various galleries. Over the past several years, Pat’s art has regularly appeared in art exhibits and in major public and private collections in the United States and abroad. Pat retired from a successful legal career, and after moving with her husband Walter to Florida, fully embraced her passion for painting, which began with her painting, as a young girl in New York City, intricate Ukrainian Easter eggs known as “pysanky” (from the word “pysaty,” to write).
                                                     • • •
    An email from Europe informed me that Olena Pavlivna Ott-Skoropadska, 95, daughter of the last “Hetman” of Ukraine (a title used by Ukrainian heads of state prior to the elimination of both the title and the position by the Russian empire, which was restored in 1918), Pavlo Skoropadskyi, passed away Monday in Zolikerberg, Switzerland. She was born July 5, 1919, in Berlin, Germany, where her parents settled following the conquest of Ukraine by the Russian Communists.

    Her father, Hetman
Pavlo Skoropadskyi, was a descendant of Hetman Ivan Skoropadskyi, who ruled Ukraine from 1708 to 1722. The monarchist movement in Ukraine and in exile had hoped to restore the “hetmanate” form of government in independent Ukraine.

    The late Olena’s memoir, “Last of the Skoropadskyi Clan,” published in German and Ukrainian, describes the trials and tribulations of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi and his family while living in exile. She meticulously collected and saved information and documents about her family’s traditions, and after the restoration of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, arranged for the transfer of all documents to Kyiv,
Ukraine’s capital.
                                                     • • •
    While Western Europe commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, Ukraine is engaged in a bloody struggle to get rid of the terrorists trained and armed by Russian president Putin, who terrorized several cities and towns near the border with the Russian Federation. Up until recently, the Ukrainians, with assistance of some foreign agencies, kept searching and discovering unmarked graves of soldiers of various armies who fought and died on Ukrainian soil in WWI.

    Some of the fiercest battles in both WWI and World War II were
fought on the territory of Ukraine, and many soldiers of Austrian, German, Hungarian and other armies were killed in these battles and buried in the places where they died. The Russian Communist regime did not pay attention to these unknown fallen soldiers. They even razed some cemeteries of fallen Ukrainian and other soldiers. After the restoration of Ukraine’s independence, the local communities made a concerted effort to find, identify and repatriate, or properly reinter, the remains of these soldiers.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians 

by Atanas Kobryn