Ukrainian Folk Festival celebrates independence through ‘veil of tears’

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Dozens of musicians lined the Ukrainian American Sports Center playing traditional songs. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Dozens of musicians lined the Ukrainian American Sports Center playing traditional songs. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Hundreds came together Sunday in the Philadelphia suburb of Horsham to celebrate the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence.

The Ukrainian Folk Festival is an annual event, but organizers say this year’s festival holds a special meaning because it comes amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Organizers said it would honor the relationships created between Americans and Ukrainians as the U.S. lends a helping hand during the troubling time. Event emcee, Eugene Luciw, said the 2022 festival would be celebrated through “a veil of tears,” but it was important to celebrate Ukrainian culture.

“We’re also going to prove Moscow to be a liar, because we are a separate and distinct nation with its own language, its own music, its own dance and everything else … and nobody can deny us that freedom,” Luciw said.

Emcee Eugene Luciw said this year’s independence day would be celebrated through ”a veil of tears.” (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
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Luciw acknowledged the roughly 12 million people that have been displaced as a result of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

“Imagine our entire beautiful state, all of Pittsburgh, all of Philadelphia, all of Harrisburg, Ambridge, Johnstown, Altoona and everything in between is suddenly without a home,” Luciw said. “Who will ever be able to take care of that?”

The festival included traditional folk music, dancing, and authentic Ukrainian food.

Violinist Innesa Tymochko Dekajlo performed in front of more than 1,000 people who attended Sunday’s Ukrainian Folk Festival on Aug. 28, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Richard Golazeski is a member of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Reenactment Group. Ukraine, along with the two other nations, make up the Lublin Triangle, which aims to invoke the heritage of the 1569 Union of Lublin, creating the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

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“What we do is we teach history that nobody outside of Eastern Europe really knows, because it was hidden by the various powers that wanted to make it disappear because they didn’t want people to know,” Golazeski said.

Golazeski was thankful to be back at the festival for the first time in three years to be able to teach attendees and children the history of the connected nations.

“As things are [opened] back up and we’re able to do what we do again and it’s just like, thank God we can get out here and do it here,” Golazeski said.

Five dollars from each ticket sold will go towards humanitarian aid, including victims of the war in Ukraine.

Last Monday, it was announced the National Constitution Center will award the 2022 Liberty Medal to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for “his heroic defense of liberty in the face of Russian tyranny.” He will be honored during a ceremony in October.

The 2022 Ukrainian Folk Festival celebrated the relationship the United States and Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked war. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

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