Rochester community gathers to mark the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukrainian war

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(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester community is coming together to commemorate the one year mark of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Ukraine War: 365 Days of Resistance, Remembrance, and Resolve is free and open to the public. The event will include songs, stories, words, and prayers. There will be an art auction and Ukrainian goods will also be available for purchase.

February 24, 2023 marked the first anniversary since the war began, but due to weather conditions, the event was rescheduled to Friday, March 3.

One of the event’s organizers, Alexandra Wolanskyj-Spinner, who lives in Rochester, has personal ties to the war. Not only is she Ukrainian, but her sister, Lidia Wolanskyj, currently lives in Western Ukraine.

The two sisters are inviting the community to come together to remember the impact the has had, and will continue to have, on the Ukrainian people.

“You know it has not been easy, she has been affected by the rolling blackouts, and air raids are not uncommon,” says Wolanskyj-Spinner.

“A lot of my friends were saying ‘Lidia, when are you going to leave, why don’t you leave?'” recounts Wolanskyj. “At the time, I had a lot of internally displaced people and refugees coming through my place, because they were all heading west. And I said ‘I’m not leaving until I see the white’s of their eyes and the barrels of their guns. People need help here, I can’t just walk away from it.'”

The sisters say, this event is important because many people didn’t know about Ukraine as a nation and culture until the war began over a year ago.

“We want to be able to share and remind individuals that the suffering continues, and what is at stake,” says Wolanskyj-Spinner. “It’s an event of remembrance, but it’s also an event to celebrate the culture of Ukraine as well.”

“I felt invisible most of my life. I would tell people I was Ukrainian and I was so proud of that, and they would go ‘what’s that?'” says Wolanskyj. “So for me, it’s very important, I feel like the people of Ukraine, and Ukraine as a country with a history, is finally being seen.”

The Ukraine War: 365 Days of Resistance, Remembrance, and Resolve is March 3rd, from 5-7 p.m. in the American Legion Room at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

Wolanskyj-Spinner wants to recognize and thank fellow organizers Ana Folpe, Olya Hromis, and other volunteers including Lisa Boardman for helping with this event.