Despite the cold and snow, on Sunday, Feb. 26, Copley Square was decorated with Ukrainian flags along with those of the United States, Poland, Latvia and others. Almost 1,000 Bostonians gathered in front of the Trinity Church to recognize the gloomy one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. People joined in to listen to the speeches of city officials and personal stories of Ukrainian students pursuing education in the Boston area, while collecting and sending aid packages back home and dealing with very complex emotions.
During the rally, a delegate of Mayor Michelle Wu announced Feb. 26, 2023 to be “Boston Ukraine Day.” Notable community members in attendance were U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, who visited Ukraine at the beginning of the war; Dr. Frank Duggan, an emergency room doctor who has taken five trips to Ukraine thus far to help heal people on the front lines; and the Rev. Abi Moon, a senior associate at the Trinity Church, who initiated the service with a prayer calling for peace in Ukraine.
Some of the students who spoke at the rally are founders and staff of Mriya, a Ukrainian nonprofit organization that raises donations to supply Ukraine with equipment, power generators and other necessary tools. They shared their experiences since the start of the invasion and expressed gratitude toward the people of Boston who have been helping the cause by raising awareness, donating and putting up Ukrainian flags and other symbols on their streets and inside their houses.
Many who came to show their support for Ukraine were those who fled from Russian missile strikes and bombings to save their and their family members’ lives. Families ranged from residents of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv — the cultural center and the largest city in western Ukraine — and Lviv, to smaller towns such as Stryi, to towns and cities on or near the front lines such as Kharkiv and Kherson.
After the rally, people had a chance to see the exhibition “Defending Freedom.” Located in the church undercroft, the exhibition presented 52 posters with facts and pictures of the horrifying events from the last year. The posters were also displayed by volunteers, some of them Tufts students, throughout the rally. Event attendees also had an opportunity to stay for a mass to pray for Ukrainian victory.
Rallies like the one in Copley Square this past weekend also provide space to connect with representatives of different diasporas. Such strong support from the Boston community gives me and fellow Ukrainians motivation and strength to fight further, spread the truth about the Russian military’s crimes and collect donations to help the Ukrainian army and its civilians who have suffered from Russian attacks.