Former VOC Board Trustee Awarded Ukrainian Order of Merit

On September 19, Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Executive Vice President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and former VOC Board Trustee, received the Order of Merit from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for his work as a leader of the Ukrainian community in the United States to help bring victory closer in Ukraine’s war against Russia’s brutal aggression.

In a special event at the U.S. National Archives, the President and First Lady of Ukraine addressed the U.S. government, business representatives, media, and the Ukrainian community in America as the country nears two years since Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Honoring several Americans for their support, Zelenskyy said, “Today, we’re here together with Olena to express gratitude to all of you, to the Americans – ordinary people who have done and are doing extraordinary things at the call of their hearts. American hearts beat just like the hearts of Ukrainian people. And all the most important historical achievements of nations are a reflection of whether people are capable of being extraordinary for the sake of life, for the sake of freedom. Never before in human history has this been more vital than it is now.”

President Zelenskyy continued, stating that “there are different people here – doctors and soldiers, politicians and businessmen, adults and children… Ukrainians, Americans. There is not a single soul here today who would not care what happens to freedom. And there is not a soul in Ukraine that does not feel gratitude to you, America. To you – the people who help us not because you have to, but because your heart cannot let you do otherwise. Thank you. That is humanity. This is what makes us Ukraine. That’s what makes you America.”

One of the awardees was Michael Sawkiw, Jr., a longtime friend of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and former VOC Board Trustee. As the Executive Vice President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, he directs the organization’s DC bureau, the Ukrainian National Information Service. Sawkiw, Jr. is currently partnering with the Victims of Communism Museum to host a new temporary exhibit on the Holodomor. Opening on October 3, 2023, the installation will trace the history and horrific consequences of Stalin’s man-made famine in Ukraine.