Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Constitution Day observances

     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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Memories of my father

Being a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and godfather, it is normal to expect greetings and well-wishes from some, if not from all, descendants for Father’s Day on Sunday.
Some wishes will be very sincere, others very likely only formal, but both will be welcome.
I want to wish all fathers, grandfathers, godfathers and fathersto- be a happy and healthy Father’s Day.
Having been separated from my father (also my mother and other family members) at the age of 16 during World War II, thinking and praying for my father and other family members daily was natural for me. For many years I had no idea if my parents and siblings were dead or alive, and eventually I found out they thought the same of me. Only during the “perestroika” in the Soviet Union was I able to establish contact with my mother and siblings who were deported years earlier to northern Russia, in the Ural Mountains. By that time, my father was dead, and his final resting place in the snow-bound Ural Mountains is known only to God.

I will never forget July 7, 1944, the St. John the Baptist holiday, spent with my family and with one of my cousins, Paulina Blazhkevych, in my native village of Volya Yakubova.

My father Oleksa (Alexander) was the oldest son of his parents, one of eight siblings, who was unable to continue his secondary education because of family responsibilities.

Nevertheless, upon being drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army, he managed to quickly master German language and rose to the highest non-commissioned rank in an elite mountain brigade.

Upon discharge, he was offered a position in the equivalent of the state police in his home province of Halychyna, at that time known as “Crown land of Galizien und Lodomeria.” He was an active participant of the Ukrainian War of Liberation following World War I, and after its collapse he returned to his village, occupied by Poland. In addition to helping his father-in-law with farming, he became active in the village’s civic and cultural organizations. He was one of the organizers of a credit union and became its secretary-treasurer until the “liberation” by the Red Army in 1939 and the closing of the credit union by the “liberators.”

He was always willing to help his neighbors, and was often called to draft a last will and testimony, or write a petition. He was especially helpful during the Nazi occupation because of his mastery of the German language, even though his health was failing — the result of typhus acquired during the War of Liberation.

Upon the return of Soviet Russian occupiers in 1944, he and the rest of the family (my mother, brother and two sisters, the youngest being only 9 years old) were deported to the Ural Mountains area. His crime? Being a community activist and the first cousin of Col.
Andriy Melnyk, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.
 Mrs. Roma Guran, president of the Coordinating Committee of the Ukrainian American Clubs and Organizations of North Port and vicinity would like our community to know that at 4 p.m. July 2 at North Port City Hall, off Sumter Boulevard, the Proclamation of Ukrainian Independence will be read by the mayor of North Port.

The proclamation will then be handed over to representatives of our community.
Members of the Ukrainian community are encouraged to attend this ceremony. Kindly wear your embroidered attire.

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

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ukrainian American Veterans enjoy end-of-season lunch

Members of Cpl. Roman G.Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, headed by Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.) and their spouses or significant others, met Friday at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club in North Port for a luncheon and brief meeting. There will be no membership meetings until September.
The luncheon meeting was opened by Col. Rondiak with the proper opening ceremonies (salute to the flag, Pledge of Allegiance, invocation by Post Chaplain the Rev. Roman Badiak, USMC veteran, and a moment of silence for departed comrades), introduction of two past national commanders present, the oldest living PNC Walter Shipka of Port Charlotte, and yours truly, and welcoming remarks. Col. Rondiak then spoke briefly about his extensive vacation travels, and ended by speaking at length about the magnificent UAV National Monument erected and standing tall in the Ukrainian cemetery in South Bound Brook, N.J.
The monument, in honor of all Ukrainian American and Ukrainian men and women who honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces in all wars and in peacetime will be formally blessed and dedicated on Oct. 3 during the 68th UAV National Convention.
In a special message to all UAV members, National Commander Ihor W. Hron of Osprey writes, “it is our duty to honor not only our departed brothers and sisters-in-arms, but also all Ukrainian American Veterans who have served our Nation in the Armed Forces.”
After enjoying a delicious luncheon prepared and served by Heron Creek staff, two special guests visiting from Ukraine were introduced — retired Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Alexander Halaka, who once served as a military attaché with the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C., and retired UAF Col. Yuri Matviyenko. Both guests spoke briefly, congratulating our organization and thanking the Ukrainian American community for the support it provides Ukraine. 
Attendees at the luncheon seemed to enjoy the company because conversations and well-wishes for happy and healthy vacations continued long after the ending prayer by the Rev. Roman Badiak, salute to the flag, and formal adjournment of the meeting by Col. Rondiak.
  The owners of K& K Bakery, 13661 Tamiami Trail in the North Port Center (near Wells Fargo Bank) held a successful fundraiser for orphanages in Ukraine on Saturday. While enjoying a cup of coffee with a sweet roll or with K& K’s special, delicious pastries, visitors were shown a video inside the bakery about the orphanages in Ukraine.
Co-owner of K& K Bakery Alex Korsykov and his family have been helping the orphanages for many years, and his main goal is to assist in adopting these children. K& K will accept donations that will go to three orphanages in the Odesa region of Ukraine, with about 360 orphans, including many who lost their parents in war.  Because of the war against Russian aggression in the eastern regions of Ukraine, these and other orphanages don’t have enough money to provide enough food and clothing for the children.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at
Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn

Monday, June 8, 2015

Clubs, organizations take summer break

North Port Branch 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, known as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian Ladies), headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, had its monthly membership meeting Tuesday at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center (known as the “Oseredok”). This was the last meeting before the summer break.
There will be no meetings in July and August.
Col. Roman Rondiak, USA (Ret.), commander of the Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, reminds all post members that there will be no meeting this Friday at the Oseredok. The joint luncheon meeting with spouses or significant others will take place at noon Friday at Heron Creek Golf & Country Club, off Sumter Boulevard in North Port.
A fixed-price luncheon menu at $15 per person consists of a choice of hamburger platter, Reuben sandwich with fries, Cobb salad with chicken or shrimp salad, with coffee, tea or soda, and tax and gratuity included.
The highlight of the luncheon will be a brief presentation on the erected, awesome UAV National Monument at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Cemetery in South Bound Brook, N.J., which will be formally dedicated Oct. 3 during the UAV 68th National Convention.
The Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, headed by Daria Tomashosky of North Port, held its last membership meeting before the summer break May 27 at the Oseredok. After listening to and approving the reports of officers (secretary Doris Horbachevsky, treasurer Nancy Wosny, corresponding secretary Halya Lisnyczyj, Scholarship Committee chairman professor Victor Lisnyczyj, and president Daria), members were shown a brief video, “We are Ukraine!” that had many young people of different ethnic backgrounds, some speaking in languages other than Ukrainian, declaring that they are true Ukrainians. They also sang the Ukrainian national anthem in English.
The featured speaker was Lieda Boyko of Port Charlotte, who recently visited Ukraine with her sister Olena Boyko of Urbanna, Va.
Leda spoke about her experiences during her several-week visit, which included meetings of faculty and students of the Ukrainian Catholic University in L’viv, visiting the 100th anniversary observance of the Ukrainian Riflemen’s victory over the invading Russian Imperial Army at Mount Makivka in the Carpathian Mountains, and visiting many other interesting sites. She was very much impressed with the celebration of Easter in L’viv and in the villages of the L’viv region, and cannot forget the young wounded Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv’s military hospitals, who are anxious to get well and go back to their units to fight the terrorists supported by Putin and Russian military invaders.
While in Ukraine, Lieda’s sister Olena, a retired pharmacist, purchased an ambulance for one of the volunteer units shuttling wounded soldiers from the front lines to the hospitals.
My wife Katrusia and I wish to congratulate and wish happy birthday to our two oldest children, Alexander Zenon and Maria Luba, who will observe their 62nd and 59th birthdays on June 4.
Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
By Atanas Kobryn