Roanoke area Ukrainians gather to show solidarity on Defender’s Day

Ukraine Defender’s Day honors the sacrifices of the men and women fighting to defend the country’s freedom

ROANOKE, Va. – ‘Defend Ukraine - Defend the World’ is the message a group of Ukrainians in Roanoke are trying to spread on Defender’s Day.

Ukraine Defender’s Day honors all the sacrifices of the men and women fighting to defend the country’s freedom.

This year is more important than ever as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalates.

The Ukrainian community in Roanoke is small but it is remaining strong during these troubling times.

Inna Payne delivered a speech in Roanoke’s Freedom Plaza during Friday’s event.

“People in Roanoke and all U.S.A to think about … you cannot ignore this situation because it can spread. It can happen to anybody,” Payne said.

Payne was joined by a dozen other people in a ‘Circle of Defenders’.

The circle is meant to call on peace and solidarity.

Roanoke College Professor and Ukrainian Woman, Martha Kuhar, was also part of the circle. She still has family in Ukraine but has found a new family in Roanoke.

“They are Ukrainian in their hearts and in their souls. That’s what makes us powerful and that’s what gives us this power to defend and speak for Ukraine,” Kuhar said.

As the war continues to press on, days can seem longer and harder, but Kuhar tries to remain strong.

“We want to express our grief and our agony in tears and crying and screaming but we can’t do that because that is not helpful to the people we have left behind and to each other. So we’re being strong for one another and that strength is our power,” Kuhar said.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.