INDIANAPOLIS — Ukraine declared its victory over the Soviet Union on August 24, 1991. The day is celebrated every year as Independence Day.
"It's the happiest day in Ukraine's history. Modern history. The day we got our independence," Ukrainian-American Anya Aslanova said.
This year, Ukrainian Independence Day is not filled with its usual fanfare. Because the day also marks six months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24.
"They still feel free. And I think that's what keeps them going," Aslanova said.
She gathered with other Ukrainians on Monument Circle for a show of strength.
"It's hard to celebrate today. So the reason why we actually decided to do the vigil instead of the celebration is because so many lives have been lost. But it's a very special day because those lives have been lost not in vain. They were lost for independence," Aslanova said.
Community members say that six months into the conflict, worldwide support is more important than ever.
"What we have to understand is what it is costing the Ukrainian people. And I'm not talking monetarily. I'm talking the lives of their soldiers, but more importantly, the lives of women, children, elderly," Andris Berzins, Honorary Consul of Latvia to Indiana, said. "Supporting Ukraine right now is probably the most important thing we can do if we don't want to get in a war with Russia down the road."
"This is the message that we really want to pass on to our soldiers out in Ukraine on the field, to let them know that we're with them in support of everything they're doing for our freedom," Aslanova said. "We're all very hopeful that we will win this war. And we're already winning."
The vigil was organized by Indiana Supports Ukraine.