March 22, 2015
My dearest children!
Perhaps today, unfortunately, I can say, my children of war. Forgive us, your elders, for not having done more to prevent it. The burden of this tragedy falls on your generation, on your shoulders. But we will prevail! I am confident in this, because I know you! I am proud of you!
The war will pass – all wars pass. Unfortunately, it takes lives, reaps misfortune in homes, and damages the soul. But a person must remain a person and care for that which is theirs, their family, and the future of their nation.
According to modern lore, there was a time during Word War Two when British parliamentarians were debating on whether or not to cut funding for cultural programs to lessen the burden of financing the war. Churchill, the brilliant man that he was, simply replied, “then what are we fighting for?”
Likewise, we have to maintain and cultivate our historical and cultural heritage – especially so that it’s not pirated by our Russian “brothers” for yet another century.
I remember how impressed U.S. ambassador William Miller was in the early 1990s, when I took him to our academy, in the deplorable and vandalized condition it was at the time as a military training yard. Even then, it began to rise above all, breathe anew, and look into the future. Can you recall that time?! It’s ongoing! We continue to revive the spiritual sanctuary of our nation: http://www.ukma.edu.ua/index.php/cooperation/entsyklopediia
Just like then, victory will come in today’s war, it depends on us all. Because, as our dear friend and poet William Miller wrote about our academy twenty years ago, “these foundations wait for us to build again.”
Bratsky Monastery by William Miller
The Hetmarts great Cathedral was
Next to that twisted tree.
In their hate, our brothers
Beat down the uplifted crosses,
Crushed the shining golden domes,
Silenced the sweet sounding bells,
And killed the monks in their cells.
Our brothers took everything away.
Stone by stone.
They did not rest,
Until it was done.
The gold, of course, and the sacred
They carried off to Moscow.
Under this frozen earth and snow,
Here, under our feet,
The foundations wait for us
To build again.
With love and faith in you and our Ukraine, yours,
Honorary president of the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy
Illustration: Katya Lavrenova