Independence Day — a day of hope in Ukraine

Photo: facebook.com/bogdanbortakov

Photo: facebook.com/bogdanbortakov 

2015/08/24 • Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov

On Independence Day it is very easy to get lost in banalities. Especially when the day is celebrated by a country in a state of undeclared war with a vicious neighbor. A country that has a part of its territory occupied by the troops and mercenaries of one of the most heinous and deceitful regimes in the modern world. A country that is experiencing one of the most difficult economic crises in recent history. What kind of holiday is that?

A magnificent one. Because from now on every subsequent year in the existence of independent Ukraine will be a real celebration. For many years it was possible to think that it was simply an official date. That independent Ukraine would continue to wobble for decades between the civilized world and the Russian insanity, of no particular interest to anyone and incapable of bothering anyone. That it would remain yet another fragment of the Soviet Union, lost in time. A country of no importance even for its own citizens. That it was doomed to be swallowed up sooner or later by the former metropolis.

I trust that there is no need to prove to anyone now that this view was erroneous. Ukraine has turned out to be a country able to defend its future. A country whose citizens have become the embodiments of heroism and selflessness. A country with a powerful enemy intent on its destruction. Unexpectedly for many, Ukraine’s national flag has become a symbol of freedom and the flag of last hope for those Belarusians, Kazakhs, Armenians, Azeris and even Russians concerned about their own countries.

This is precisely why each subsequent year of Ukrainian independence is a year of hope. Hope that Ukraine will become a civilized European state. Hope that the territorial integrity of our country will be restored and the flag of freedom will fly over liberated Donetsk, Luhansk, Sevastopol, Simferopol, Yalta, Bakhchysarai. Hope that the post-Soviet space will cease to be the space of darkness and lies. That the dictatorial regimes will collapse. That peace will be restored in Europe. That we all will think about the future and not live with illusions of the past. This is now the special meaning of our celebration.

Now it is no longer simply the day of the Independence of Ukraine.

It is now the day of our common hope.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Espreso TV

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  • Randolph Carter

    Ukraine, may the day of your freedom from oppression and power-hungry dictators come soon! May the invaders who have taken your cities and oppressed your people hang their heads in shame and return to Russia, having learned what true courage and honor are! Especially the city of Lugansk, where the kindest and most courageous woman lives, she who chose to stay behind because her mother is there, who sacrificed her safety for her mother’s, even though a rocket launcher was placed on top of her apartment building and constantly fired round after round! She faced gunfire and food shortages, loss of all utilities, constant danger, but served her country by working as a nurse to help those who were wounded back to health and life! Honor to you, dearest – you are truly the most courageous woman I have ever met!

  • Eddy Verhaeghe

    Testament (Zapovit)

    When I am dead, bury me
    In my beloved Ukraine,
    My tomb upon a grave mound high
    Amid the spreading plain,
    So that the fields, the boundless steppes,
    The Dnieper’s plunging shore
    My eyes could see, my ears could hear
    The mighty river roar.

    When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears
    Into the deep blue sea
    The blood of foes … then will I leave
    These hills and fertile fields —
    I’ll leave them all and fly away
    To the abode of God,
    And then I’ll pray …. But until that day
    I know nothing of God.

    Oh bury me, then rise ye up
    And break your heavy chains
    And water with the tyrants’ blood
    The freedom you have gained.
    And in the great new family,
    The family of the free,
    With softly spoken, kindly word
    Remember also me.

    — Taras Shevchenko,
    25 December 1845, PereiaslavTranslated by John Weir,[62] Toronto, 1961

    • Oknemfrod

      Good translation. Here’s how it sounds in Ukrainian:

      • Eddy Verhaeghe

        Oknemfrod, I’m hopeless with computers. So could you please post the link to this spoken version of Testament.
        By the way, Ukrainian doesn’t sound like Russian at all ;-))

        • Oknemfrod

          Eddy, that’s what I did; Discus auto-turns it into auto-play. Right-click on the pic, then click on the “Copy video URL”, and you’ll have the link. No, Ukrainian does not sound like Russian at al. Among many differences, Its relative vowel content is much higher, and unlike in Russian, unstressed vowels are pronounced openly (sort of like in French) with almost no schwas.

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Oknemfrod,
            Better to teach someone to work with his computer, than to give him what he asks. Thank you, because you thaught me something of value and use.
            Next time one of those lovers of Russkiy Mir goes on and on about the brotherhood of the Slavic peoples, Russian and Ukrainian being the same language, Russians and Ukrainians being the same people, etc… I’ll post this link. Everyone with an ear for languages will be able to conclude for himself that Russian and Ukrainian are not the same language and that Russians and Ukrainians are not the same people.
            PS The John Weir translation of Testament is hanging on the wall of my study. Reminds me of what Ukraine went and is still going through and how this incredible people survived centuries of oppression. Slava Ukraini!

          • Oknemfrod

            Thank you, Eddy, I appreciate the kind words and your empathy.

            My other favorite Ukrainian poem, “Kameniari” (lit., Stone masons) was written by great poet and incredible Ukrainian intellectual Ivan Franko. John Wier has translated it, too; you can find it on page 56 here:

            http://sites.utoronto.ca/elul/English/Franko/Franko-Weir-Poems-Stories.pdf

            And here’s a wonderful oral rendition of it in Ukrainian by Basil Bucolic:

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Oknemfrod, reading Weir’s translation of Stone masons I see my ancestors toiling in the Flanders that knew oppression and famine in the 1840’s.
            The Flanders that knew linguicide until fairly recently and where ordinary Flemings until today have great difficulty to claim their rights in a country where they are the majority.
            That’s one of the reasons that Ukraine’s battle for freedom and fight to shed the yoke of Russkiy Mir is so dear to me.
            Slava Ukraini!

          • Oknemfrod

            Eddy, I totally understand. And, just as linguicide in Ukraine, it has done damage but ultimately failed. I suspect that the difference between Flemish (let’s say, just Tussentaal, or else it’s too complex for me) and standard Dutch is akin to the difference between Ukrainian and Russian. And I bet there are people in your neck in the woods who claim that it’s “all the same”.

            Слава Фландрії!

  • MPK

    I was thinking the very same thing yesterday – this day was coming for Ukraine. At some point, it needed to happen, had to happen. The day where Ukraine broke free from it’s Soviet chains and from it’s eternal bully neighbor. Many are dead and it has caused heartache and pain for Ukrainians – but it is better to live a day in freedom than years as a slave. Ukraine is now free, and the world owes them our support. Indeed, Independence Day for Ukraine now has meaning. Glory to Ukraine – Glory to the Heroes. Слава Україні, героям Слава!!!

    • Oknemfrod

      Слава Україні, героям Слава!

  • Eddy Verhaeghe