Commemmorating 100 Years Since the Birth of Roman Shukhevych
As a joint initiative of the branch committees of the Ukrainian Youth Association and PLAST in Sydney, a day of remembrance was celebrated on Sunday the 1st of July 2007, to mark 100 years to the day of the birth of Roman Shukhevych -Taras Chuprynka, head commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The Sydney branch of CYM has Taras Chuprynka as their patron.
With respect and reverence the proceedings began with a gathering of PLAST and CYM members outside the Ukrainian Youth Association Centre, where the Ukrainian and Australian flags were raised. The assembly of the respective organizations then marched to St Andrews Ukrainian Catholic church, where Father Zdan Kolomyjec celebrated the Holy Liturgy and a remembrance mass (Panachyda) for the departed soul of Taras Chuprynka. The youth choir sang the mass under the direction of the conductor Mary Duma. The final resting place of Taras Chuprynka remains unknown to this day.
The joint Festive Assembly of CYM and PLAST started at 12.00 noon at the Ukrainian Youth Association Centre. Youth and seniors formed their ranks with precision around the hall. The assembly began with the bringing in of the flags and included the flag of the veteran soldiers of UPA of whom there are very few left. This was followed by the reporting of attendance to the commander of the assembly, Stephen Duma, who was exemplary in leading the entire proceedings.
Representatives of the various community groups and organisations were invited as guests of the honoured presidium. The guests included the eminent Mr Valentyn Adomitis, Ambassador of Ukraine in Australia who was first to address the assembly, and who had taken part in all the morning’s remembrance activities. Mr Laurie Ferguson, the Federal Parliament member for Reid was also present. He is a regular guest at the Sydney Ukrainian community’s functions.
The Ambassador was traditionally welcomed with bread and salt and his wife Alla was presented with flowers.
In his presentation the Ambassador of Ukraine reminded us that marking the anniversary of Roman Shukhevych was strongly proclaimed by Ukrainian president Victor Yuschenko and that on this same weekend the respect and honour for the commander of UPA was being commemorated in various cities in Ukraine. The ambassador was pleased to see that the youth in Sydney solemnly acknowledge the memory of the commander of UPA who in his own youth was a member of PLAST. The communist propaganda machine did everything in its power to make sure that people in Ukraine did not know the truth about the fight of UPA and its heroes. It is with great sorrow that even today we see Ukraine’s politicians and the political factions creating divisions and hostilities within the Ukrainian nation. Not too many years ago it was hard to imagine a public show of reverence and respect in Ukraine for Roman Shukhevych. However, Ukraine now has the means to do celebrate his life thanks to the support and views of a democratic and patriotic president.
Those present at the assembly were greeted by the President of the National Executive of CYM, Wasyl Senko, who stated that the family of the commander of UPA lives in Sydney and presented Ms Anita Shukhevych to the gathering. Wasyl also presented four former soldiers of UPA- Dmytro Hrycko, Stefan Kozak, Stefan Markiewicz and Wolodymyr Kostka and expressed gratitude for their heroic struggles and fight. The veterans were then greeted with applause from the assembly. Greg Huzij from PLAST, Chrystyna Bailey from the Ukrainian Women’s Association, Tanya Borec from Ukrainian Women’s Association (branch patron Olga Basarab) and Peter Lutak from the Ukrainian Council of NSW, all delivered commentaries, speeches and greetings. All the speakers pointed out that Roman Shukhevych - Taras Chuprynka was a devout Catholic, a pensive and thoughtful nationalist, an uncompromising revolutionist, courageous soldier and a talented organiser, who throughout his entire life was dedicated to the cause and fight for a free Ukraine. PLAST member, Julian Grodzicky, read the day’s “order” of the assembly.
To follow was a very moving and emotional moment - Bohdan Lanycia handed over the flag of the Ukrainian Galician 1st Division to the Ukrainian Youth Association for preservation. Diahanna Senko, the President of the CYM branch in Sydney received the flag along with Justin Semciw and Helen Havryliv. The CYM members promised to take care of the flag. Prior to the handover, Wasyl Senko said a few words about the history and heroic fight of the Ukrainian 1st Division. One year earlier the former soldiers of the UPA had also handed over their flag to CYM.
The Ukrainian Brotherhood of Free Cossacks in Australia posthumously presented a medal, The Cross of Cossack Glory, to Roman Shukhevych – Taras Chuprynka. The medal and a charter were mounted on a special plaque that was officially unveiled by the ambassador Valentyn Adomitis and a Cossack representative Wasyl Janczuk.
On this symbolic day of respect for the memory of general Chuprynka, “sumivtsi”(CYM youth members) Daria Perih, Katerina Kobryn and Melissa Ilkiw took an oath and made a vow as they stepped in to the ranks of the “Druzhynnyky” (full members of CYM). Congratulations to the girls on their promotion. The oath was led by Father Zdan Kolomyjec, former President of the National Executive of CYM in Australia. We welcome the initiative taken by the administrations of CYM and PLAST in Sydney on their commemoration and show of unity on this day.
And during the assembly a minutes silence was observed on a number of occasions as we remembered those who laid down their lives in the fight against Ukraine’s oppressors – we remembered the fallen of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the Ukrainian Galician 1st Division, and those who perished in prisons and concentration camps.
May we remember them!
Glory to Ukraine! Glory to our Heroes!
Translated by: Katerina Kobryn