Constitution Day is a public holiday in Ukraine celebrated every year since the adoption of the current Constitution on June 28, 1996. Prior to this historic act, Ukraine was using the Constitution of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, with some modifications adopted after the restoration of Ukraine’s Independence on Dec. 1, 1991. The Constitution was amended in 2004 and 2010, and in 2014 was restored to the 2004 version.
The first document, which some consider to be “the first constitution,” was the Magna Carta of King John 1215.
On June 12, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee of 13 men to prepare a constitution for a union of the states. On Nov. 15, 1777, the draft was approved to be distributed. In the summer of 1788, the delegates convened in Philadelphia with intent to create “a more perfect union,” and signed the final draft of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1788.
Sept. 17 was officially recognized as “Constitution Day,” and since 2004 it became “Constitution and Citizenship Day.” The day is not a national holiday, however.
Poland has a national holiday “Constitution Day” celebrating the Constitution adopted May 3, 1791, even though there is a new Constitution in presentday Poland.
One constitution has been and continues to be overlooked and/ or ignored — that written by Hetman Pylyp Orlyk, a Cossack of Ukraine, then within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The document, titled “Pacts and Constitutions of Rights and Freedoms of the Zapororizhian Host,” established a democratic standard for the separation of powers in government between the legislative, executive and judiciary branches.
This constitution was not adopted in Ukraine because Ukraine was absorbed into the new Russian empire of Tsar Peter (who changed the name of the Muscovite state to give his empire an artificial link to Kyivan Rus), following the defeat of the allied Swedish Army of King Karl XII and the Ukrainian Army of Hetman Ivan Mazepa at the Battle of Poltava in 1709.
The document was well-known in Western Europe where Pylyp Orlyk eventually sought refuge, and his son Hryhor (Gregoire) Orlyk became a high-ranking general in France, giving his name to the Paris Orly Airport. There are, thus far unconfirmed, rumors that American diplomats, including Benjamin Franklin, might have been familiar with the “Orlyk Constitution” and used their knowledge in drafting the U.S.
The anxiety of members and friends of the Southwest Florida Ukrainian Catholic congregation was relieved by the visit of the Most Reverend Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo, eparch of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Diocese in Parma, after the removal of the former pastor of St.
Mary’s Church, the Rev.Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin.
The Rev. Bohdan Barytsky of Parma was concelebrating the divine liturgy (Mass) last Sunday with the Rt. Rev. Mitrat Archpriest Wolodymyr Woloszczuk, pastor-emeritus.
The congregation is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Rev.Severyn’s permanent replacement.
This is a repeat reminder of the 4 p.m. July 2 meeting of the North Port City Commission, during which the Proclamation of Ukrainian Independence will be read and presented to representatives of the local Ukrainian American Community.
Members of the Ukrainian American community are encouraged to attend this ceremony wearing traditional Ukrainian embroidered attire.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com.
Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn