Marking the 50th Anniversary of Shevchenko Monument in Washington, DC (Speech by Ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S. Olexander Motsyk)

From news archive: 29 June 2014

Speech by Ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S. Olexander Motsyk at the Ceremony Marking the 50th Anniversary of Shevchenko Monument in Washington, DC


Fifty years ago, on June 27, 1964, the American Capital inaugurated a monument to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko, outstanding Ukrainian poet, philosopher, artist and outstanding personality, who entered the global pantheon of cultural heritage.


Taras Shevchenko Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Back in 1964, the opening of the monument to our Kobzar in Washington became a historically significant event. It was a victory of Ukrainians, certain milestone in their fight against the communist Soviet regime for the right to have “their own truth, strength and freedom in their own home”.
Many of those present here today remember well that the history of construction of the monument was quite dramatic and lasted almost five years. It did not come as a surprise, because it was a showdown between two powerful forces, America – the symbol of Freedom, and the Soviet Union, justly called the Prison of Nations. Hostile communist anti-Ukrainian forces fought hard to make the Congress revoke its Act on the construction of the monument. Even after the groundbreaking ceremony, there were attempts to revise the decision. Ultimately, all those efforts proved futile, primarily, because of the joint powerful efforts by Ukrainian Americans and steadfast support of U.S. Administration.
June 27, 1964, became the Ukrainian Day in America. The solemn ceremony of inauguration of the monument fully sized up with the greatness of Taras Shevchenko. The festivities were attended by 100,000 people, including delegations from Canada, Argentina, Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, and Australia. Representatives of the U.S. government and foreign ambassadors were also in attendance. As he unveiled the Shevchenko monument, President Eisenhower called the poet a Ukrainian hero and addressed the people gathered with these words: “For my hope is that your magnificent march from the shadow of the Washington Monument to the foot of the statue of Shevchenko will here kindle a new world movement in the hearts, minds, words and actions of men; a never-ending movement dedicated to the independence and freedom of peoples of all captive nations of the entire world.”
Four American Presidents made their contribution to honoring Taras Shevchenko. Harry Truman was an honorary head of the Shevchenko Monument Committee. Dwight Eisenhower finally cleared the way for the monument to be installed in Washington and John F. Kennedy sent his greetings to American Ukrainians as they dedicated the site in September 1963 and facilitated implementation. Lyndon B. Johnson said: “He was more than a Ukrainian – he was a statesman and citizen of the world. He was more than a poet – he was a valiant crusader for the rights and freedom of men.”
In the presence of our colleagues from the U.S. Department of State, I avail myself of this opportunity to express, on behalf of Ukraine, our limitless gratitude to the American people, government and Congress, and to everyone who made their contribution to the construction of the monument here in Washington. I am especially grateful to the Ukrainian community, which was a kind of “people’s lobbyists” of the cause. I’d like to make a special mentioning of the inspirer of the project, Mr. Lev Dobriansky, the President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee at the time, whose initiative led to the establishment of the Shevchenko Monument Committee, and whose contribution to the grand monument can hardly be overestimated.
Speaking at the unveiling, Dwight Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President, said: “It is not only merely for today, but for all time to come that we today present to the world this statue of Taras Shevchenko, Bard of Ukraine and Freedom Fighter, to perpetuate man’s faith in ultimate victory of freedom”. The grand Shevchenko Monument is a shining symbol of Ukraine’s love of liberty and a bright evidence of support of the people of Ukraine and of free, democratic and independent Ukrainian state by the United States of America.
Dear friends,
Lina Kostenko, a famous Ukrainian poet, said in one of her poems: “Oh, Kobzar! I come to you again, because you are my conscience and my law …” Indeed, Shevchenko’s Kobzar is a kind of spiritual law for us, encoding the genetic foundation of our spirituality and identity. That’s the book that we use to learn how to read, how to think and act, how to fight, don’t give up and win!
In all difficult times of our history, Shevchenko’s words helped Ukrainians to stand up and to continue their fight for freedom, independence and liberation from all oppressors.
Today, Ukraine experiences the most dramatic period of all years of its independence. Our Motherland has suffered a vile attack from Russia that strives to destroy the European course of the Ukrainian people and to split Ukraine, the attack that is something unheard of in civilized world.
Everything taking place today in Ukraine – the annexation of Crimea and the war in the east – represent attempts to break the freedom-loving spirit of the Ukrainian nation and to return it back to the past.
Ukraine experiences the times of challenges, but also the times of hope.
Speaking at the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on June 26, President Poroshenko said: “The turmoil in Ukraine started because the people of our country did not want to say no to democracy and the European approach. It continued because someone decided to punish Ukraine for that choice. It will stop when common sense and European values prevail over aggression.”
Nobody may stop the will of Maidan, the will of the Ukrainian people.
Yesterday, President of Ukraine signed the Association Agreement with the European Union. Our choice is the development of robust democracy that would take its proper place in the family of European nations. Our way leads to the European Union. However hard it may be for us, however long it will take, we shall win, we shall restore the territorial integrity of our state and join the free democratic family of European states as equals among equals. I am certain that’s the kind of Ukraine Shevchenko would like to see.

I am deeply convinced that very soon his prophecy will come true:

And on lands revived
There will be no foe, no rival,
There will be instead
A son, a mother,
And there will be people on the earth.


From news archive: 29 June 2014

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