According to recent data, some 813 Ukrainian refugees have settled in Everett since 2002. These numbers do not reflect 2019 and forward.
With the potential for a Russian invasion to retake Ukraine, tensions are high worldwide, especially since Russia’s retaking of Crimea a few years back. This harkens to WWII and the formation of the Soviet Union. Ukraine was wedged in the middle of this conflict between Poland, Romania, Russia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, and others. All would fall and become part of the USSR.
Ukraine suffered the most. It is a huge country known for its fertile rich soil, heritage, and culture. Under Stalin, it became Russia’s bread basket. All the farms were collectivized, and its peasants and farmers were starved and forced to provide all their food to Stalin and his Politburo. Between 1929 and 1932, an estimated 3.9 Ukrainians were literally starved to death. They were not allowed to keep any food for themselves or their families. They would die in the fields eating dead wheat shafts.
Independence would come very much later with the fall of the USSR, but their desire to return to freedom and sovereignty kept their culture and traditions alive, if under the radar. While there are separate factions along the border with Russia, this does not represent most Ukrainian citizens. Those along the borders speak Russian, taught from birth, but Ukraine has its own language and deeply, rich culture. Though long suffered and waited for, they are not prepared to give it up. Therefore, normal everyday people are taking up arms to defend themselves from the shellackings which are destroying their idyllic and peaceful villages. They are fleeing to communities around the world including ours here in Everett.
With deep ties to Western Europe before the war, many were and remain Catholic, though many other Christian religions are also growing and welcomed. The Ukrainian people are warm, family and community loving. Their traditions hark back to gentler times. From holidays to important family events such as weddings and births, everyone gathers. It has been said you can walk into a Ukrainian house where you know no one, do not even speak the language, but you will dance, eat all night and being singing at dawn.
For a fun look at their traditions, visit Ukrainian Culture.
So, on this Presidents Day in 2022, remember our ancestors fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America has always welcomed immigrants from around the world. We will have many more in the coming days and years. Contact your local charity you are involved with or just reach out a helping hand. The Ukrainian Community Center of Washington can help.
Below is a picture gallery of their suffering, perseverance and their culture still are thriving today.