WASHINGTON — Crowds of Ukrainian supporters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday to call for more United States aid in the fight against the Russian invasion that has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and led to millions more fleeing to safety.
United Help Ukraine is among the organizers of the rally, which kicked off around 2 p.m. The official permit filed with the National Park Service anticipated up to 5,000 to be here for the event.
The group held a similar event at the Lincoln Memorial on Feb. 20, just days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Weeks later, organizer Yaro Hetman told WUSA 9 that the message from United Help Ukraine had changed.
"At the Feb. 20 event, we spent more time trying to educate the supporters about the potential of a war," he said on Saturday. "At this point, our focus is to help pressure our government to take action and prevent even more death. We believe that our government has in its power to provide Ukraine the right means to defend itself.”
WATCH THE RALLY AND A VIDEO ADDRESS BY UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY
Hetman was born in Ukraine and moved to America when he was just 9 years old.
With friends and family members still over in Eastern Europe, he said the conflict struck close to his heart.
"I would almost say there’s a bit of survivor's guilt," Hetman said. "I always can come home to a hot shower, a hot meal, electricity. Whereas I have family and friends who unfortunately don’t have those luxuries anymore."
Hetman told WUSA 9 that the rally on Sunday will feature speeches from members of Congress and Ukrainian ambassador Oksana Markarova.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also expected to address the crowd from his office in Kyiv.
"Our big message is to all American supporters and supporters around the world to take action, to pressure our government to do a lot more for Ukraine, to give Ukraine the weapons it needs," Hetman said.
"Our biggest hope and message is that more people turn from bystanders into people taking actions and writing their officials and pressuring our government to do more.”
The other organizers of the rally include U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, U.S. Ukrainian Activists, Razom, and the Renew Democracy Initiative.
#StandWithUkraine rally planned events
Planned events include speeches from:
- President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy
- Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States
- Bill Kristol, Director of Defending Democracy and founder of the Weekly Standard
- Tom Melia, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor for Senator Benjamin Cardin
- Luis Borunda, Maryland Deputy Secretary of State
- Kirill Reznik, Maryland State Delegate
- Marie Yovanovitch, diplomat, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
- Adam Parkhomenko, political strategist, former field director Democratic National Committee
- Performance from children at the Taras Shevchenko School of Ukrainian Studies
Participants are encouraged to bring Ukrainian flags with them. If you cannot join the rally, organizers encourage you to put the Ukrainian flag on your porch/window to show that you #StandWithUkraine
You can also watch the live stream here: https://fb.me/e/2gzZvsPgm