For our ancestors, for the ancient Slavs even before Christianity, the most terrifying thing was to die as a slave. This stemmed from the belief that one who passed away in bondage would remain slaves in the afterlife, meaning for eternity. The awareness of this has remained in the genetic code of not all nations. But for Ukrainians, it has remained.
In the present day, witnessing the determined stance of Ukrainians as they fiercely defend their freedom and independence against an an overwhelmingly superior adversary, I am reminded of a timeless Ukrainian wisdom: “Slaves are not allowed to Paradise”. This saying poignantly captures the essence of why personal freedom and the sovereignty of their country hold the utmost significance for the Ukrainian people.
In 1991, Ukraine achieved its independence, breaking from Soviet enslavement. In both 2004 and 2014, Ukrainians stood strong against autocratic forces, demonstrating their unwavering determination to remain free even within their own nation. Today marks a year and a half since a full-scale war has been waged for independence, for the very existence of the Ukrainian state, for the life and liberty of all Ukrainians without exception. It brings me immense joy to witness that, contrary to all forecasts, the Ukrainian people are prevailing in this historic struggle.
Today, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, I would like to extend my heartfelt wishes to Ukraine and its people. First and foremost, I wish victory. Following that, I wish happiness, peace, love, and the fulfillment of all most cherished desires. Life always triumphs over death, freedom conquers dictatorship, truth prevails over falsehood, and faith overcomes discouragement. And today, Ukraine brightly demonstrates all of this to us.
Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!