Dear Commons Community,
As Russia’s war on Ukraine entered its seventh month, New Yorkers gathered in Central Park to mark the besieged country’s independence day with the unfurling of a massive flag (see video above).
The giant blue-and-yellow symbol, said to be the biggest Ukrainian flag in the world, was displayed in the park’s Sheep Meadow before a crowd of hundreds.
Oksana Gapyuk, 29, and her boyfriend took the day off to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Ukrainian parliament’s vote to leave the Soviet Union — normally a joyous occasion.
“This has more significance because it also marks six months since the full invasion, so it’s just heavier,” Gapyuk said. “Any celebration feels grand.”
Chants of “Slava Ukraini,” or “Glory to Ukraine,” echoed through the meadow during the celebration.
Gapyuk said strangers stopped her in the street to wish her a happy Independence Day as she made her way to Central Park.
“That’s never happened before,” she said. “Other cultures know, Ukraine shields the whole democratic world now. If Ukraine falls, it will be ugly for everybody. We need more and more support for Ukraine.”
A group of Armenians, whose home country also broke away from the Soviet Union, came to show solidarity.
“Keep up the fight,” said Gogor Yegnukian. “I know you’re unrelenting — you don’t need me to say it — but know that Armenia is behind you, Armenians are behind you, the civilized world is behind you.”
Glory to Ukraine!