On November 22, 2008, I joined the thousands of people from all over Ukraine who braved the rainy snow to participate in the Holodomor remembrance service. This year, the event took place in the newly-opened Holodomor Memorial in Kyiv.
Along came the Presidents of Poland, Georgia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as some 44 foreign delegations. President Yushchenko received letters of commemoration from the leaders of Paraguay, Ireland, Finalnd, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Argentina, not to mention outgoing U.S. President Bush and President-elect Obama. He also received a letter of denial from Russian President Medvedev.
The remembrance service actually marked the opening of the Holodomor Memorial, situated amid Pechersk’s majestic scenery, on a hill overlooking the Dnipro and leftbank Kyiv. On the one side, the Memorial neighbors the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and, on the other, the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
On my way, I saw countless yellow-blue banners, some of them decorated with black ribbons in honor of the dead.
A motorcade moving along Ivan Mazepa Street en route to the Holodomor Memorial
The lighting was truly dazzling
Signs representing all Ukrainian oblasts and the Crimean Autonomous Republic
Latvian President Valdis Zatlers and First Lady Lilita Zatlere lay their candles
Leaders from Moldova, Croatia, Slovakia, the EU and the CoE lay their candles
President Yushchenko delivers his speech, thanks world leaders, governments and international organizations for recognizing the Holodomor
Observing a moment of silence
Vichna vam pamyat!
Hill of Candles
A capella of bandurists
The main monument: a candle-shaped tower (crisscrossed with little crosses that follow a Ukrainian ornament) embraced by four crosses, one for every cardinal direction: North, South, East, and West.
Embedded into every cross are cranes ascending into the sky. (In Ukrainian culture, cranes traditionally symbolize Ukraine.)
The crane at the face of the monument is crucified by two gate-like stones.
A bundle of wheat amid candles
The entrance to the underground shrine
Inside: a circle of wheat under a bell suspended from the ceiling, a candle stand, black curtains, and a couple of big screens placed on the walls showing Holodomor documentaries.
Exiting through the central entrance (there's also a backdoor entrance that gives you a panoramic view of the hillside, the Dnipro and leftbank Kyiv)
This girl really touches your heart — a stark symbol for all the children that perished in the Holodomor.
The Gateway Angels: 1932-1933