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Ukraine Defenders' Day, Weymouth 15th October 2022

The Weymouth area Ukrainian community celebrated Defenders' Day on 15th October by dancing in the rain. Defenders' Day is a public holiday in Ukraine celebrated annually on the 14th October, a tradition dating back to the 12th century. Since Ukrainians in Weymouth were busy at work that Friday, we delayed the gathering to the following day. The heavens opened, but this couldn't disrupt the party who had come to share their love and devotion to Ukraine with their compatriots.

There was no pre-planned organisation, but at the sight of flags from Ukrainian cities and the sound of Ukrainian songs along the streets, Weymouth rose to the occasion. Despite flags and clothes being soaked, everyone was warm with love and pride for Ukraine.

For most community members, this is a memorable holiday; husbands, brothers and friends are currently defending Ukraine and their families on the front line. Ukrainians talked about their homeland with love and recounted stories of Ukrainian victories, of Ukrainian soldiers and a Ukraine Defender Day for all the English who joined the community spontaneously. In addition, people sang the National Anthem and honoured the memory of compatriots from whom the war took their priceless lives. The words about those who celebrated with Ukraine from heaven were met with tears.

We expressed our gratitude to the Ukrainian army, the bravest and most professional army in the world. Those who protect us all from a mad empire that wants to plunge civilisation back into the darkness of world war. Gratitude to everyone who fought for Ukraine in the past and to everyone who is fighting for it now. As President Vladimir Zelensky said, we are here to salute all who have won in the past and will win now.

Some participants travelled great distances to celebrate this Day with the Weymouth Area Ukrainian Community. For example, Natalya from Kharkiv arrived in Weymouth with her little son from the countryside. She is a professional photographer, and we are grateful to her for the beautiful photos she took of the event.

The Ukrainians in Weymouth ask everyone to continue praying for the people in Ukraine, and they want to thank the British government for its support. It is not easy to be far from home, but such meetings strengthen, unite and support people and their desire to fight for victory. Today's celebrations prove the solidarity of our community and its mission in England. Our love for Ukraine needs no rehearsals to express the strength of our feeling.

The Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army continued the Cossack struggles for independence in the twentieth century. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the Feast of Intercession of the Theotokos was chosen as the Day of the official creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. It is seamless logic to us that the ancient heroic past of Ukraine connects with the heroic present. Glory to Ukraine!

With thanks to the Weymouth area Ukrainian Community, Olena Manzhelo for the article and Natalia Goncharenko for the the photographs. Keep them coming.

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