Two years into Russia’s invasion, students rally on Lincoln Memorial in support of Ukraine

March 11, 2024

Photo by the Ukrainian Society of Georgetown

Thousands rallied in continued support of Ukraine on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the afternoon of Feb. 24, which marks two years since Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine. The rally was held concurrently with many other cities across the globe in support of the “Believe in Ukraine” campaign. 

The rally was hosted by the U.S. Embassy of Ukraine and Ukrainian American NGOs, including U.S. Ukrainian Activists (USUA), United Help Ukraine, Razom for Ukraine, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), and Ukraine House. It included speeches from representatives of each organization as well as prominent Ukrainian activists. 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.N. Human Rights Office has reported over 10,000 civilians have been killed and nearly 20,000 injured—though the real death toll is thought to be higher. Nearly 6.5 million people have fled the country, and 3.7 million have been internally displaced. 

For the members of Georgetown’s Ukrainian Society, several of whom are international students with family members in Ukraine, the rally was an important reminder that Americans stand with their country.

“There were so many people there from all over the country, and the rally was filled with people,” Katie Taffe (CAS ’27) said. “I felt a strong sense of community and strength in the crowd, but also sorrow. Family and friends in Ukraine were on everyone’s minds, and I heard a few people saying, ‘Hopefully we won’t be here next year.’”

The rally also celebrated Ukrainian culture, featuring traditional dances and music. After its conclusion, demonstrators marched to the Russian Embassy, where they sang the Ukrainian and U.S. national anthems. 

Photo by Sydney Carroll

The event served as a gathering for the Ukrainian community in D.C. and beyond, as demonstrators came from all across the country. 

“We met people from the different parts of the States, we met Ukrainians who emigrated here, we met Americans who have had grandparents from Ukraine, people who have friends from Ukraine, people who had all sorts of connections,” Oleksandr Sinhayivskyy (SFS ’26), an international student from Ukraine and a member of Georgetown’s Ukrainian Society, said.

Speakers at the rally emphasized the importance of where the rally gathered, in front of the Lincoln Memorial and within view of the Washington Monument and White House. 

“It’s no coincidence that we gather at this very spot,” Michael Sawkiw, director of the Ukrainian National Information Service, said to demonstrators. “We are wedged between three iconic memorials to represent not only the braveness and greatness of men, they represent the spirit of America, built upon the principles of freedom and liberty they fought so hard to preserve. Those same values have been demonstrated in Ukraine for the past 730 days.”

As the war enters its third year, House Republicans continue to oppose further aid to Ukraine, leading to potentially catastrophic shortages of weapons and ammunition. Sinhayivskyy noted  that as the 2024 election approaches, he and other Ukrainians worry that U.S. aid may end  depending on which party gains power. 

“We as Ukrainians are sometimes concerned that a change of power will influence the amount of aid, which is very important for us Ukrainian students whose families are personally on the front lines,” Sinhayivskyy said.

Despite the hopeful nature of the rally, Ukrainian students said that they are still unable to return home and experience the tragic impacts of the war daily.  They urged their American peers to join them in advocating for U.S. support of Ukraine. 

“A lot of my friends’ homes were destroyed by missiles, I haven’t been able to go home for two years, and I have friends whose loved ones were shot by Russians,” Marta Mysiahina, (SFS ’27), a member of the Ukrainian Society and an international student from Ukraine, said. “We urge you to contact your state representatives and ask them to further support Ukraine and the financial aid for Ukraine, because it will save thousands of people.”

As the war continues, Ukrainian students hope that demonstrations like this one will continue to keep the American public and global community engaged. 

“Rallies like that are vital to remind the world that the Russian war in Ukraine is still going on, even if it may disappear from the headlines of newspapers,” Mysiahina said. “Every day Ukrainians still wake up and go to sleep to the sounds of Russian shelling that targets the civilian infrastructure.”

Sinhayivskyy also urged people to attend future rallies and make their support known to the U.S. government, in order to secure military aid for the people of Ukraine. 

“The opinions of the public is the one thing that determines how much the politicians will be interested in delivering and promoting aid. That is so vital,” Sinhayivskyy said. “As the war goes on, it doesn’t fade away. And I think the public attention shouldn’t fade away either.”

Photo by Sydney Carroll

Sydney Carroll
Sydney is a freshman in the college and a news assistant editor. Likes sushi, boygenius/Olivia Rodrigo/Noah Kahan/Taylor Swift, her 3 dogs, cat, and guinea pig, public transportation and Tennessee sunsets. Dislikes math, whichever team is playing the Buffalo Bills this week, the patriarchy, almost every politician who represents her, and mustard.

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