BRAMA, Apr 28, 2005, 9:00 am ET|
Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Viktor Yushchenko's speech before a joint session of Congress and his award at the President John F. Kennedy Library surpassed honorary status. Each event was a symbolic, demonstrative act indicating that a country exploited for three hundred years is now recognized in its own right as a sovereign nation on the world stage.
No doubt the Kremlin and Russophiles bristled knowing that the United States welcomed someone from "Little Russia" in such a respectful, extraordinary manner. Ukraine has finally moved outside the political, economic and psychological shadow of its cold, dark, northern neighbor.
The Boston Globe quoted Ukrainian-American Stephanie Majkut who succinctly reflected, "I'm finally seeing freedom in Ukraine. We're finally going to get the Russians off our back. We won't be persecuted anymore."
Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the former president, presented Yushchenko the Profile in Courage Award noting, "for those of us who are free, he has reminded us that we can never take our freedom for granted. And for people with no voice in their own government, President Yushchenko and the Ukrainian people have given them hope."
As the representative for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North and South America and delegate of His Eminence, Metropolitan Michael Javchak Champion, at the ceremony, I heard President Yushchenko say, "I could not calmly watch as the hopes of [Ukraine's] citizens were replaced by disillusion, as millions of people were forced to look for work abroad, as oligarchical clans stole the national wealth . . . with every cell of my body, I felt that millions of honest people were behind me, that we could win, that we would undoubtedly win."
He continued, "Ukrainians today are ready to relive the words of John F. Kennedy: 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.' We have the same desire to free Ukrainians from poverty and encourage justice and the rule of law. We want to make Ukraine one of the leaders of democracy."
"This is so historic," said Arnie Arnesen, a guest, long time friend and 1992 Democratic nominee for New Hampshire governor, now a nationally renowned radio and television commentator (www.ArnieArnesen.com).
Arnie, the most intellectually honest commentator in America, who takes Democrats to task equally with Republicans, was so moved by the event that she took an orange daisy from one of the many vases at the reception to dry and keep with the program booklet. I removed the orange ribbon from my lapel pinned with a trident to give to Arnie so that it would be kept with her flower.
"This is an amazing day," repeated my friend of Italian and Norwegian heritage. "Amazing, historic day." The following day Arnie had the UAOC as a guest on her radio program to discuss the ceremony and Ukraine's emerging geopolitical role in Europe and the world.
The Profile in Courage award shares the name of President Kennedy's 1957 book. The Kennedy Library presents the award to a select few who demonstrate rare courage and conscience in times of moral and political danger. Although it can be taken for granted that an event featuring a world leader receiving such an award is historic, this was different, especially when it comes on the eve of the recipient addressing a joint session of Congress.
During the reception, held in an enormous room with huge glass walls, it was difficult not to see the parallel between American and Ukrainian history at this point in time. Through the glass guests enjoyed a stunning view of both the harbor and the City of Boston. Several miles away among the streets where a large, modern city had grown patriots like Paul Revere furthered the cause of liberty. Now on this night many came to honor a man who risked his life to further freedom in Eastern Europe.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy observed at the ceremony that President Yushchenko's "story is the story of honor, decency, and the will of the people triumphing over fraud, deceit, and intimidation. Because of his great courage, the rule of law prevailed against the oppressive rule of the powerful over the powerless. At a critical moment in his nation's history, he took a strong and courageous stand for what he knew was right. He risked his life, and nearly lost it, in the ongoing struggle for democracy in Ukraine."
It has taken a long time, but Taras Shevchenko's hope as expressed in a poem has been met; Ukraine finally has its George Washington. Shevchenko is no doubt smiling from heaven. The next time President Yushchenko visits Shevchenko's grave he may wish to bring orange flowers.
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep is Chancellor of the Archeparchy, Episcopal Vicar of South America and Syncellus for Public Affairs and Government Relations for the Church. He is a lawyer by training and former aide to U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). His Excellency has also studied at Bangor Theological Seminary, the third oldest such school in the United States. He may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter(a)aol.com.
* * * * *
Apr 22 12 - Op-ed: Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
Jan 23 12 - Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dec 30 11 - Ukrainian World Praise for Major Archbishop Shevchuk
Dec 21 11 - Lessons from Muscovy
Aug 10 11 - Russian Truth
Apr 14 11 - President Yanukovych's Chance to Show Leadership
Mar 14 11 - An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
Aug 27 10 - Independent Ukraine 2010
Jan 31 10 - Remembering Ukraine's Jews
Jan 15 10 - Orange Forever!
Aug 27 09 - UAOC Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
Jan 14 08 - UAOC Bishop Condemns United Fatherland and Union of Orthodox Citizens
Oct 25 07 - Bishop calls for Annual Holocaust Memorial Day
May 28 07 - Priests try to end anti-Semitism
Feb 12 07 - Statement on Anti-Semitism
Feb 5 07 - Kyiv Patriarchate Appoints U.S. Director of Public Affairs
Nov 23 05 - Archbishop Husar's Orange Revolution of Faith
Sep 12 05 - Yushchenko showed leadership
Sep 7 05 - Metropolitan Mefodiy of Kyiv to visit America
Sep 2 05 - UAOC issues strong condemnation of anti-semitism
Apr 28 05 - Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
Apr 1 05 - Diaspora rebirth begins in dialogue
Mar 11 05 - The Politics of Orthodoxy
Feb 11 05 - The Diaspora's Future
Jan 21 05 - Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Greek Prelate
Dec 22 04 - Has the Diaspora failed? Can more be done?
Dec 22 04 - Russia will not leave Ukraine alone
Dec 14 04 - God, Faith and the Orange Revolution
Dec 8 04 - Ukraine must run the extra mile
Dec 1 04 - Cage the Russian Circus Bear
Nov 24 04 - Support liberty - Practical things you can do
Nov 22 04 - Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
Oct 11 04 - Catholic Patriarchate in Kyiv
Sep 29 04 - Kuchma and the American presidential election
Aug 13 04 - Op-ed: Foreign churches cannot dictate a unilateral non-Ukrainian spirituality in Ukraine (Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Spirituality)
Jul 26 04 - Op-ed: Viktor Yushchenko and Ukraine's future (Ukraine needs a patriot as its next leader)
Mar 18 04 - Ukrainian influence in the 2004 American presidential election
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