Chicago elementary school welcomes wounded Ukrainian soldiers as part of Memorial Day assembly

Thursday, May 23, 2024
Chicago elementary school welcomes wounded Ukrainian soldiers
The Catholic St. Nicholas Cathedral School in Ukrainian Village, Chicago welcomed wounded soldiers Thursday as the Russia-Ukraine war rages on.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There was a special visit from wounded Ukrainian soldiers at a Catholic elementary school in the city's Ukrainian Village Thursday.

The students at St. Nicholas Cathedral School celebrated the group of wounded Ukrainian soldiers and veterans visiting Chicago as a part of the grade school's Memorial Day assembly.

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"I was really happy that our soldiers came here. It was really good to give them thanks," student Yaryan Kilchytsk said.

"Our students have learned to lead by example and show kindness and empathy," Principal Anna Cirilli said.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago, the school has enrolled over 140 Ukrainian students, who fled the war zone with their families. There are 96 current students like third-grader Yaroslava Valikova.

"This means to me so much. I love being in the United States," Valikova said.

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The military delegation has visited the school before.

While in town this year to participate in the annual Run for Freedom Race at Soldier Field this weekend, their commander shared a message of perseverance and sacrifice.

"I was very emotionally touched with the reaction of the kids, small creatures that have never had anything in their lives, but they know something about what is going on," retired Maj. Gen. Volodymyr Havrylov said.

Some of the school's 217 students gave the soldiers and veterans "thank you" cards.

Ukraine's consul general was also in attendance, along with some U.S. military members and local law enforcement.

And while the conflict in Ukraine rages on, some students worry about their relatives in the region, as they hope support from the United States will mean peace will come soon.

"Feel like we are all, like, united, we are all together," student Andrii Labiak said. "It's a feeling of support that we can give to them, and they can give to us."