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'We took the word independence for granted': Celebration of Ukrainian Independence has deeper meaning in 2022

As Parma celebrates, war continues in Ukraine
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Posted at 10:33 PM, Aug 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-28 08:04:45-04

PARMA, Ohio — An annual tradition in Parma celebrating Ukrainian independence took on a deeper meaning Saturday.

Six months into a war with neighboring Russia, the very independence the parade celebrated is under attack in Ukraine.

“For years Parma residents have commemorated this day with you,” Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter told the crowd. “But like many Americans, we took the word independence for granted.”

The world-wide wake-up call came February 24, when Russian military forces invaded Ukraine.

An invasion a world away, that hit close to home in Parma. The city is home to the highest concentration of Ukrainian-Americans in Ohio.

“Especially now, more than ever, the sovereignty of Ukraine needs to be respected and all these groups came out to do that,” said Zoriana Zobniw from the Ukrainian Village Committee.

Organizers called support for this year’s parade “overwhelming" noting it had more entries than ever before.

Its support they’re hoping continues as Ukraine’s fight for freedom drags on.

“We cannot tire,” said Marta Kelleher, President of United Ukrainian Organizations of Ohio. “We must drive on until the Russian invaders are gone from every bit of Ukrainian soil and Putin is removed from power or Ukraine will never be able to rest.”