South Students, Faculty Gather for Peace Vigil

Article and photo by: Gracie King | Feature Editor

As the war continues between Ukraine and Russia, over a million Ukrainian-Americans are witnessing the attack on their country and culture from afar, impatiently waiting for its conclusion. 

Students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Mitchell Center on March 9 for the University of South Alabama Vigil for Peace. The event, put on by the Office of Immigration and International Admissions, allowed attendees the opportunity to take a moment and reflect on and pray for those currently affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“Like so many others, I am both saddened and reassured by the events that are taking place in Ukraine, throughout America, and around the world,” President Bonner said in his opening remarks. “Saddened because of what is transpiring in Ukraine: senseless death, unprovoked destruction and an erosion of democracy in Eastern Europe, yet reassured by the presence of all of us who have gathered here today and people of like mind and heart who have gathered around the world in solidarity for our friends in Ukraine.” 

In addition to the key speakers visiting professor Dr. Anton Svynarenko and Rabbi Steven Silberman, the Mobile International Festival Singers performed the national anthem of Ukraine, “Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Jill Jackson- Miller and Sy Miller for the attendees. 

Dr. Svynarenko, originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine, shared a poem, “Where Are You Coming From?by famed Ukrainian poet, Serhiy Zhadan, with attendees that he felt appropriately represented the current conflict. 

“Tell us, why did they burn our city down?/ Tell us they did not mean to do it. / Tell us the guilty will be punished, Chaplain./ Tell us anything that’s not on the news, ” wrote Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan.

Dr. Mara Kozelsky, a professor of Russian and Eastern European history, is considered by many to be an expert on Ukrainian history and affairs and offered a brief explanation of the Russian invasion and its impact on Ukraine. 

“This is heartbreaking for Ukraine, which is going through so much devastation and we see civilians being targeted and held basically hostage, … we also see that the Russian population does not know this is happening,” Dr. Kozelsky said. 

On March 16 and 17, Mobile United will be hosting “The Unity Project,” a community art project representing unity, at the Student Center Amphitheater. The event is open to the South Alabama community from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday and open to the South Alabama and Mobile community from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Thursday.