CHICAGO (WLS) -- Beginning in prayer, students at St. Nicholas Cathedral School packed the auditorium to honor U.S. troops this Memorial Day weekend in the midst of an ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
"We need to continue fighting," Ukrainian native Oleh Eikhuk said.
Supporting the cause were several Ukrainian veterans - some of whom had fought in the Crimean crisis of 2014 - when Russia invaded and then annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.
The homage to soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice comes as their native country continues its fight against Russian forces. Some students said they were also feeling the weight of the war an ocean away.
"I have a cousin that is, right now, a soldier," 5th grader Yaryna Slyusarchyuk said. "He's in the military, and I am really thankful for everybody, for everything that they do. It's hard, I know, but we will win because we are Ukrainian!"
It's that optimism that keeps their support going hundreds of miles away as these veterans plan to pay it forward to the American and Ukrainian troops, both present and past.
"We want to thank American people for supporting Ukraine," Eikhuk said. "They are working and give us a lot."
Those Ukrainian veterans are set to run in the Soldier Field 10 to honor those American soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. That run will kick off Saturday morning at 7 a.m.