The Main Stream

Aug 25, 2014 1:51 AM by Domenica Fuller

Ukraine's Independence Day or Memorial Day? - How people in Tucson are affected by the Eastern European Crisis

TUCSON - Culture is what defines a nation. But what happens when someone is trying to steal a culture and a nation?

Sunday marked Ukraine's 23rd Independence Day. Recent tensions with Russia are on the other side of the world, but some people in Tucson are feeling the direct affects of the Eastern European conflict. St. Michael's Ukranian Catholic Church's congregation celebrated Ukraine's Independence Day, while carrying the burden of knowledge that their country is fighting for its independence and its future. Members of this small congregation have family and friends still in Ukraine, who are living in war zone.

"One of our people here called me up she has been having a very difficult time. She is terribly afraid that her son could be among the victims...She doesn't know if he is alive or dead," said Reverend Andriy Chirovsky, a pastor at Saint Michael's.

The United Nations estimates more than 2,000 people have died and 5,000 have been injured in the Eastern Ukraine conflict.

"People around the world look up to the United States and want what the United States has...Independence Day every day...They want to also have what we have in the United States and the people of Ukraine want also peace, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," said Dr. Ihor Kunasz, president of the Ukrainian-American Society in Tucson.

Russia sent aid convoys to Ukraine on Saturday, but Ukraine did not hesitate to call it a "direct invasion." The convoys left the country on Sunday, but the threat of invasion and destabilization still lingers in the minds of Ukrainians.

"I think it is very important for Tucsonans to know to realize that what is going in Ukraine right now is not just another one of those conflicts way out there somewhere. This is a test of whether we can avoid World War Three or not and World War Three is going to affect all of us," said Chirovsky.

If you would like to help Saint Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church provide aid for Ukraine, the church is accepting the following items: boots, underwear, socks and sleeping bags.

You can also send the church a check. Write the check out to "Saint Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church" and in the memo write "humanitarian aid for Ukraine."

For more questions email stmichaeltucson@gmail.com.

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