On the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, community members dressed in blue and yellow crouched in front of a growing collection of candles lining the pathway toward the North Carolina State Capitol.
Some of the candles on the walkway rested on sheets of paper bearing the details of important events since Feb. 24, 2022. One candle represented the 58 people who were killed and over 100 who were injured from the cluster munitions attack at the Kramatorsk train station on April 8, 2022.
As the light faded on Friday evening, over 100 people honored a moment of silence for Ukrainian citizens before listening to speeches and poetry readings during the vigil hosted by the Ukrainian Association of North Carolina in downtown Raleigh.
Some community members draped Ukrainian flags around their shoulders. Others wore Ukrainian wreaths, or vinoks, and traditional Ukrainian clothing with detailed embroidery.
Also in the crowd were Chapel Hill community members who had attended the UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies’ roundtable discussion earlier that day. The discussion brought together UNC academics, community members and Ukrainian activists, scholars and educators to reflect on the past year of conflict.
“Glory and honor to all those who fought and who shed their blood to defend Ukraine,” Olena Kozlova-Pates, the founder and executive director of Ukrainians in the Carolinas, said during her speech. “Eternal memory to lives taken by Russia’s barbaric war.”
Speeches were delivered in both Ukrainian and English and were punctured by calls of “Slava Ukraini!”, which means "Glory to Ukraine!", and the crowd response of “Heroiam Slava!", meaning "Glory to the heroes!"
Andre Barkov, a Durham resident from Ukraine, works for HOPE International, which has been providing humanitarian and resilience aid in Ukraine in the past year to support basic needs and community initiatives.
“I’m Ukrainian and I want to be with my people here in the States,” he said.