People Stand Together
Despite the chilly gusts, a collective warmth prevailed among the citizens who gathered on April 24 on the steps of the Blackstone Library to Stand with Ukraine, marking the 60th day of the war.
As the lead organizer, I want to thank all participants in the 60-minute vigil, especially the Branford residents sharing remarks.
Iryna Solomkov, Ukrainian correspondent for Voice of America, expressed how touched she was by the local support, noting that, unlike most events for Ukraine, this gathering was planned and supported by non-Ukrainians.
Shane Smith, familiar coach and trainer along the shoreline, was home briefly from his current base in Poland to pick up medical supplies, which he’s helping distribute into Ukraine; otherwise, he’s organizing soccer games with the refugee kids in Poland.
Sally Bahner, journalist and feline aficionado, recounted her blog correspondence with other cat lovers in the Ukraine region, reminding us of the tragic toll war has on our beloved non-human companions.
Laura Noe, initiator and head of Helping Families Settle, Branford’s refugee resettlement group of 50 volunteers, introduced the newly arrived Afghan couple, but also lamented the biggest obstacle to welcoming more refugee families to Branford is housing.
Adrian Bonenberger, former U.S. Army captain and Afghanistan war veteran, recently spent two weeks in Ukraine helping train civilians to defend their country. “War,” noted Bonenberger, “amplifies our strengths and our weaknesses…In Ukraine, I saw the very best of people, working together to achieve a common goal no matter the cost to them, personally”.
The vigil ended with the soft ring of 60 chimes—resonating through the crowd as did Bonenberger’s concluding words: “Ukraine’s struggle for survival as an independent and democratic people is our own struggle, for every truly democratic people stand together in the face of despotism, tyranny, and oppression.”