Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ukrainian American vets join in Memorial Day observances

The only Ukrainian American Veterans post in Florida, Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 in North Port, participates in all Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances since its formation a decade ago. This year was no exception.
On Friday, a detachment of Post 40 members, with a color guard led by UAV National Commander and Past Post Commander Ihor W. Hron of Osprey took an active part in the 25th annual Memorial Day program atVenice Memorial Gardens. Coordinator of the program was UAV national chaplain, Post 40 past post commander and past commandant of the Marine Corps League Detachment 948, Marian Bojsiuk of North Port, who also led the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the program. The Rev. Roman Badiak, Post 40 chaplain and USMC veteran of St.
Petersburg, delivered both the invocation and benediction. It was a pleasure to see and hear the performance of theVenice Middle School band and chorus, as well as see theVMSYoung Marines.Venice Memorial Gardens and Farley Funeral Homes are to be congratulated for their display of patriotism by sponsoring such a program, as well as the picnic and balloon release afterward.
A “Panakhyda” (requiem service) for the repose of souls of all departed veterans, sponsored by Post 40, was celebrated at the conclusion of Sunday’s divine liturgy (Mass) at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. Celebrants were the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, pastor, and the Rt. Rev. Mitred Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, pastor-emeritus. The church choir, under the direction of Lubow Ingram of Venice, sang the responses. Post 40 members, led by UAV National Commander Hron, with the honor guard, marched in before the start of the Panakhyda and stood in the center aisle during the service, and rendered a hand salute during the singing of “Veechnaya Pamyat” (eternal memory). Hron and yours truly (past national commander) held the traditional candles during the service, and the choir initiated, with the congregation joining in, singing “God Bless America” at the end of the Panakhyda.
On Monday, members and the color guard of Post 40 (constituting the largest veterans component), led by post Commander Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.) of Osprey, took part in the annual Memorial Day ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 254 at Veterans Park near the North Port Library, as the group has every year since its formation. It was refreshing to hear an almost professional rendition of the national anthem sung by Lamarque Elementary student Brianna Guin.  Keynote speaker Joe McGee, American Legion Department of Florida 2nd vice commander, in his brief but impressive speech, called on new immigrants to our country to learn and show appreciation of veterans being honored on Memorial Day, whose sacrifices made it possible for them to come to this country and enjoy its benefits.
In addition to Post 40 members and their spouses, there were several other Ukrainian American community representatives at the ceremony, but the members of the new Ukrainian immigrant community were conspicuous by their absence.
The Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida will meet at 6 p.m. today at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center, known as the “Oseredok.”
There will be no regular monthly Post 40 membership meeting on June 5 at the Oseredok. Members and their significant others will meet at noon at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club off Sumter Boulevard in North Port for a luncheon.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at atanask@aol. com.

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ukrainian American Club, veterans post are busy

   The executive board of the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, headed by Daria Tomashosky of North Port, held its meeting last week at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as the “Oseredok”). After listening to the reading of last meeting’s minutes by secretary Doris Horbachevsky, financial report by treasurer Nancy Wosny and corresponding secretary Halya Lisnyczyj, and approving same, professor Victor Lisnyczyj, chair of club’s Scholarship Committee, reported in great detail about the work of the committee and the details of the traditional annual Scholarship Awards Luncheon.

    Lisnyczyj also read thank-you notes received from scholarship recipients, including one from this year’s recipient,
Port Charlotte High School graduate Valerie Segebre and her parents. A discussion followed about donations to the Scholarship Fund made during the awards luncheon, and other events. Following the scholarship events report and discussion, Lisnyczyj also spoke about the club’s website and his plans to add more photographs to the site to record and publicize club activities.

    Daria gave detailed information about several ongoing club projects, including the “Didusi” (grandfathers) Tapestry and Package for
the Soldiers projects. A lengthy discussion took place about the planned art display at the Venice Art Center, to be held later this year following the meeting with Art Center management. Also, the type and place of observance of the 24th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence, which took place Aug. 24, 1991, was discussed at length.

    Lieda Boyko will be the featured speaker at the next monthly membership meeting at 6 p.m. May 27 at the Oseredok. Lieda and her sister Olena Boyko
spent several weeks visiting Ukraine, where they met with officials of the Ukrainian Catholic University in L’viv, visited many interesting places and also visited with Ukrainian Army soldiers and members of Ukrainian volunteer units at the “hot spots” in the Donbas and Luhansk regions of Eastern Ukraine. Lieda will present her travelogue and her personal impressions of the current war against Russian aggression, which Ukrainians are waging without any outside help.
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    The Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Post Commander (who is also the UAV national adjutant) Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), will participate in the annual Memorial Day program at Venice Memorial Gardens at 11 a.m. Friday. Members are to meet at the UAV
monument at 10:30 a.m. wearing the summer uniform and black scarf. UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron will be in charge.

    Sunday, there will be “Panakhyda” (requiem service) for the repose of souls of all departed veterans following the divine liturgy (Mass) at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. The liturgy will start at 10 a.m.; Panakhyda at about 11:15 a.m. Again, summer uniform with black scarf.

    On Monday, Post 40 members, as in past years, will participate in the community Memorial Day observance at Veterans Park (next to the North Port Library), at 10 a.m. Members are to meet at 9:45 a.m. at the park wearing the summer uniform.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day of Remembrance vs. Victory Day

Last weekend’s worldwide observances and festivities were as varied as many countries’ and nations’ characters and governments are different. The United States staged a relatively peaceful observance of the end of World War II by honoring veterans and flying the original WWII airplanes. In Paris, France, and other capitals, the ceremonies were also more of remembrance and reconciliation, including honoring the veterans still with us and the fallen, and the laying of flowers.

    Russian Federation President Putin went out of his way to have thousands of military units and most modern military hardware parading in Moscow to
demonstrate Russia’s might. The publicity, including speeches, emphasized the role of Russians in defeating Nazi Germany and either ignoring or minimizing the role of the U.S. and its “land lease” without which the Soviet Army would not be able to continue to fight, and the role of other ethnic groups constituting the Soviet Union.

    Ukraine, once a member of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, now engaged in a de facto war with Russian Federation represented by terrorist bands and Russian military “volunteers” in the southeastern part of Ukraine, chose to recognize WWII on the “Day of Remembrance” without military parades.

    The Russian Federation and its predecessor central
government of the Soviet Union over the years minimized the role of Ukrainians and Ukraine’s sacrifices during WWII. Between 8 million and 10 million Ukrainians lost their lives in WWII skirmishes, more than the total loss of U.S., Canada, Great Britain and France combined, not counting the loss of millions of civilians. It was never mentioned that a disproportionate percentage of high officers and generals of the Red (eventually renamed the Soviet Army) were Ukrainians, including Gen. Kuzma Derevyanko, who signed Japan’s capitulation act. The name of Ukrainian Soviet Army Officer Oleksiy Berest, who posted the Soviet flag over Reichstag in Berlin, was crossed off the list of personnel to be honored by Gen. Zhukov personally, because Berest was
“khakhol” (a derogatory Russian name for Ukrainians).

    There was never any mentioning of the Ukrainian Soviet Army units liberating the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz, or the fact that thousands of Ukrainians had fought Nazism in military components of the U.S., Great Britain, France, Canada and Poland. Ukrainians fought heroically and eventually victoriously in the bloodiest battle of WWII in Monte Casino in Italy as members of the Polish Army Second Corps.

    Ukrainian observances of the end of WWII including the solemn commemorative session of Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament), with President Petro Poroshenko delivering the main address, and many non-military parades throughout the
country on May 8-10 in observance of Mother’s Day. In many cities parade participants displayed signs taunting Putin, such as “Our grandfathers defeated Hitler, we will defeat Putler” (popular derogatory name for Putin). In L’viv and other cities, the streets and plazas were flooded by women and girls parading in the traditional beautifully embroidered attire.

    On Monday, massive gatherings took place in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, and small gatherings in Moscow and several other Russian cities, to demand freedom for Ukrainian Air Force Lt. Nadia Savchenko, illegally kept in Moscow’s prison. Monday was Nadia’s birthday.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother’s Day should be day of reconciliation for all

The worldwide celebration of Mother’s Day on Sunday, being nonpolitical, nonpartisan and not tied to any religion, should be a day of reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and mutual respect by all civilized people. This would probably be the best gift to mothers all over the world, from the “peaceful” countries like the U.S., Canada and others, to countries where mothers ache and cry for their sons and daughters killed, wounded or captured by “others,” be it neighboring nations or domestic terrorists.

    Think about 77-yearold Maria Savchenko, mother of Ukrainian Air Force Lt. Nadia
Savchenko, who was captured by terrorists supported by Russia in Ukraine’s Donetsk region last year. She was transported illegally to Russia, where Russian authorities charged her with crimes she did not commit and are keeping her in jail in Moscow, where she declared a hunger strike and her health is in grave danger. Her mother spoke with German Chancellor Angela
Merkel and political figures in Canada and the U.S., stating: “I am turning to people all over the world to help me save my daughter.”

    Obviously, my personal thoughts, prayers and attention will be directed to two most important women in my life — my long-suffering late mother Kateryna and my lovely and loving wife Kateryna, better known as “Katrusia.”

    Living in American middle-class comfort, I cannot forget my childhood as the oldest child of my parents, growing up in a village in Ukraine and a household without running water, inside plumbing, central heating or air conditioning, or telephone. My mother,
who was taken in as an orphan by her pious, childless relatives Kateryna and Ilko Ivanishak (formal adoption was not in vogue at that time in Ukraine, nor was it necessary for the customary cordial and proper relations), married a Ukrainian War of Liberation hero, and gave birth to four children. Keeping the family of eight fed and clean 24/7, plus manually milking not less than two cows, attending to other household animals and chickens, and tending a fair-size vegetable garden seems impossible from today’s viewpoint, but she managed it without ever complaining. She was up early in the morning, brought water from
the outside well and wood from the outside shed, started a fire in the oven, and cooked meals every single day. At least once a week she washed clothing manually and then took the wet laundry to the nearby creek to finish the wash. Also at least once a week she had to knead dough, set it to rise overnight and bake enough bread for the growing family, healthy and with good appetites. There were many other tasks in-between, like mending clothing, sewing shirts and other items, teaching children their prayers, and going shopping in the city five miles away.

    After the “liberation” by Stalin’s hordes, my parents and three of my
siblings (my youngest sister was only 9) were deported to Siberia, where my father died a few weeks after his arrival. According to the official Communist ideology, my mother was a true “proletarian” — orphan, poor, hardworking and not involved in politics. Why was she declared “an enemy of the state” and deported? Her only “crime” was marrying a Ukrainian War of Liberation veteran and the first cousin of Col. Andriy Melnyk, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. My father was not a member of the OUN.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn