FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) – As Ukrainians fight for their freedom, people in Mid-Michigan pray, sing and mourn for the lives lost a world away.
"Ukraine is not dead:" it's the words of the Ukrainian people, singing their nation's anthem loud and proud at the St. Vladimir Catholic Church in Flint Thursday night during a vigil for their homeland.
“We're proud Americans but we're also proud of our culture,” Mykola Bartkiw, a parishioner said.
Bartkiw’s family immigrated from Ukraine back in the 1950s. Some of their family however still resides on the frontlines of a fight he says Ukrainians did not ask for, but will not lose.
“We are impressed with how courageous they are but they need help,” Bartkiw said. “They need help today, not tomorrow, not next week. We don't want the courageous things they do to be in vain.”
That war, Ukrainians remind Americans, has been going on longer than just the past eight days but eight years. For many it's reminiscent of the Cold War with fears of ongoing nuclear disaster.
“He is bombing kindergartens, schools, apartment buildings it is indiscriminate and its meant to terrorize the population,” Ukrainian Borys Potapenko said.
Frustration, anger and fear surrounds Ukrainian residents in Michigan like Potapenko as their family members chose to stay in Ukraine to fight the war with limited support from Western allies on the ground or in the sky.
“Is it going to take 25,000 dead? 50,000, 100,000 dead? for our political leaders to make that political decision step up and stop this maniac because it's not just Ukraine, it's all of Europe and the world,” Potapenko said.
While Ukrainians pray for peace and the violence to end they say it's their heritage, cultural and freedom they won't stop fighting for
“My family is from Ukraine, still in Ukraine and believes in Ukraine,” Potapenko said.