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Tea at the Ukrainian Museum and Archives; Latvia's 98th Anniversary of its Proclamation of Independence

On Saturday, November 19th, our first event was a "Tea" at the Ukrainian Museum and Archives on Kenilworth Avenue in Tremont that was organized by Ms. Marta Rupert, of img_6143the Ukrainian National Women's League of America (UNWLA) Branch #8 which is, as stated in Wikipedia, "a charitable and cultural organization that unites women of Ukrainian descent as well as those who are active in the Ukrainian Communities of the United States. Established in 1925, the organization is guided by principles of political non-partisanship, religious tolerance, and universal respect for human rights."

We loved visiting with Ms. Rupert as well as Ms. Dozia Krizlaty, President of the Ohio Regional Council of UNWLA Branch #8 who explained to us future plans for the Ukrainian Cultural Garden. We also spoke with Ms. Mariya Bloom who knows Ms. Margaret W. Wong through her involvement in the Rotary Club of Cleveland. Ms. Bloom said that Ms. Wong has helped many people who immigrated to the U.S. from the Ukraine over the years.

Highlighting the event was  the chance to view the Museum's current exhibit which was put together by Ms. Aniza Kraus, the curator, devoted to "Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Cultural Garden in Cleveland" which documented the history of the Garden; dedicated on June 2, 1940; from its early planning stages to this time.

Included in the exhibit were copies of the original architectural plans for the Garden. The description stated that these plans "were developed by a team of architects at the City of Cleveland in 1936. We display them here because we consider them to be works of art in their own right. They were created long before computers by skilled workers using pencils, T-squares, and triangles. The originals are at the Cleveland Public Library which kindly made copies for our exhibit."

The part of the exhibit that we were most familiar with concerned the restoration of the statue of Lesya Ukrainka which was rededicated on August 28, 2011. We were there on that day with our good friend U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich who took part in the ceremonies as did Ms. Krizlaty.

Another section of the exhibit addressed history of the Ukrainian immigrant community. We learned that it is unknown when the first Ukrainian immigrants actually arrived in Cleveland but an influx came in the late 19th century mostly as farm and factory workers. Eventually, however, they integrated themselves into the local business community and today their descendants (as well as the newly arrived immigrants) are prominent in all walks of life.

One particular piece of writing that especially touched us pertained to all immigrants and it read in part as follows:

"Cleveland has thrown its gates open to welcome into its citizenship people from many lands and many walks of life. Many of them came to seek adventure, many of them came to escape poverty and unhappiness, many for other reasons, but all came to find liberty, prosperity and opportunity to live. From whatever lands they came, they brought with them the memories and experiences of an older social pattern which represented a civilization different from that of America. They brought with them the riches of their national culture expressed in their colorful folklore...These people helped to build Cleveland into a great industrial city, these people helped to build America. Their activities are not limited to any one field, they are a part of Cleveland."

Later on Saturday we traveled to the United Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cleveland located on Andrews img_6159Avenue in Lakewood for a celebration of Latvia's 98th Anniversary of its Proclamation of Independence. Ms. Anda Pratins, introduced the proceedings, by saying that this was a day in which the Latvian people, including those now living abroad and their descendants, celebrate their land, their culture, and their future as a nation.

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Two speeches were given in Latvian by Dr. Sarma Eglite, the Pastor of the Church, and Mr. Peteris Blumbergs, President of American Latvian Association. Afterwards, Dr. Eglite and Mr. Blumbergs, as well as Mr. Uldis Bruns who was sitting next to us, were happy to explain to us what was said.

Dr. Eglite spoke of how we should be grateful for the freedoms that we have while advocating on behalf of the peoples of the world who do not have them.

Mr. Blumbergs addressed the fears that many international people have regarding President-Elect Donald Trump's statements about immigration and the possible lessening the United States' involvement with NATO unless its other img_6149members meet their financial obligations. He contended that while what Mr. Trump said as a U.S. Presidential candidate should be taken seriously, we should not be alarmed at this time. After all, Mr.Trump is a very successful businessman who got to where he is at through deal-making so negotiations with him just might end up providing benefits for all parties.

We were then treated to some beautiful singing of Latvian folk songs by a group named "Teiksma" who traveled to Cleveland from Minneapolis area of Minnesota. We enjoyed the melodies of the songs and even though the lyrics were in Latvian, the uplifting quality of the music and those performing it transcended any language barrier.

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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