Concert honoring Taras H. Shevchenko took place at Assumption Parish on Sunday, March 13, 2011. It was a real celebration of Ukrainian poetry and music.
Remarks about Taras Shevchenko
The year was 1814. It was almost 40 years since the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich. Ukrainian lands were occupied by foreign powers – Russians, Poles, and Hapsburgs. The Ukrainian people toiled in serfdom. Ukrainian language, culture, and traditions were denigrated and suppressed. The prospects of an independent Ukrainian nation were virtually nonexistent.
There was no vibrant Ukrainian nationalist movement. There was no Ukrainian voice.
Into this bleak situation in 1814 was born a meager soul of no account – no money, no social privilege. Yet, this soul, born into oppressive serfdom is the man that will give Ukrainian aspirations not only a heart and a soul, but also a magnificent eloquent voice. That man is Taras Shevchenko
He writes in his native language – Ukrainian and only Ukrainian. His writing educates and inspires an enslaved people. His words are profoundly articulate and emotionally moving. They speak of Ukrainian history and Ukrainian dreams. The richness and depth of his writing elevates the Ukrainian language to the level of world-class literature.
Shevchenko’s writing can be melancholy and heartbreaking when he observes the betrayal of the Ukrainian intelligentsia or the anguish of his own experiences.
However, they become proud and passionate when he speaks of the glory of the Cossacks or of his pride in his Ukrainian heritage. In either case then are always passionate.
Taras Shevchenko was well respected by many people around the world.
American President John F. Kennedy on March 25, 1961 paid tribute to Shevchenko by saynh:
“I am pleased to add my voice to those honoring the great Ukrainian poe Taras Shevchenko We honor him for his rich contributions to the culture not only of Ukraine, which he loved so well and described so eloquently, but also of the world. His work is a noble part of our historical heritage.”
The great English novelist and humanist Charles Dickens, admired and respected Shevchenko, and was grieved to hear of Shevchenko’s death. Shevchenko’s obituary in London included Dicken’s comments on the passing of his respected contemporary.
It is written that Shevchenko’s casket being carried to Kiev, from St. Petersburg, in an oxen drawn carriage, attracted memorial services and valedictories from many throngs of people along the way. Only in Kiev, all orations were forbidden. However, one gesture of a woman surpassed all eulogies when she placed a wreath of thorns on his casket.
The Ukrainian soul is deeper than wearing embroidered shirts, dancing, and singing Ukrainian folk songs. The Ukrainian soul as Shevchenko saw it, consists of liberty, equality, fraternity, and the Ukrainian soul reaches to God with an endearing faith and with humility, with respect for, and fear of God, with respect for humankind and the looking out for one’s neighbor, without expectation of anything in return.
Let us always remember Shevchenko for the courage and wisdom that his life exemplifies. He was a God fearing man who was proud of who he was and where he came from. Today we salute his memory as a champion of Ukrainian nationalism as well as Ukraine’s history, culture, and heritage.