Ukrainian-Americans will head to Albany next week for a long-awaited ceremony to remember an ugly time many of their ancestors didn’t survive.
A two-year period of food and crop confiscation by the Soviet Union led to millions of Ukrainians starving to death in 1932 and 1933, a time of forced famine Ukrainians call the Holodomor.
The Capital District Committee to Commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide will be hosting a solemn service at Empire State Plaza on Nov. 2.
Ukrainians have held local events for decades to remember the suffering and death their forefathers endured, but the Nov. 2 gathering will mark the first to take place near the capital of the state, which is home to roughly 160,000 people of Ukrainian descent.
“This is the first time that we organized this here in the Capital District,” said Myron Swidersky, one of dozens of Ukrainian-Americans who call Amsterdam home.
The Amsterdam Ukrainian Club chartered a bus to bring guests to the event, and the group is asking those who want a ride to contact club member Roman Boyko at 423-1288.
The function planned for Albany is seen as an important step, one of several that Ukrainian-Americans have been pushing for over the years.
There’s currently an effort to get the Holodomor into the curriculum in New York public schools, as it is in Illinois and Massachusetts, said Dr. Andreij Baran, a Saratoga cardiologist who organized next month’s commemoration.
Currently, school students learn about the Holocaust, in which about 6 million Jews were killed by the German Nazis during World War II, and the ethnic genocide in Rwanda in 1994, during which an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered.
“We’re hoping to make this part of everyday knowledge so that people know it happened, so that it will never happen again,” Baran said.
Another goal is to get the state Legislature to issue a proclamation recognizing the death of an estimated 10 million Ukrainians as genocide.
Ukrainian-Americans have been making strides in their efforts to have their history recognized — a memorial to victims of the forced famine is being built in Washington.
A slate of educational and commemorative events will take place starting Saturday:
• Saturday to Nov. 2: A presentation will be on display at the William K. Sanford Town Library, 629 Albany Shaker Road, Colonie.
• Monday: The documentary “Holodomor Ukraine’s Genocide” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at the Colonie library, followed by questions answered by Roman Karpishka of Montreal.
• Nov. 2: Noon start time for Holodomor commemoration at the main stage on the south end of the Empire State Plaza, followed by a service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 125 Eagle St.