Carmel and Ukraine are separated by 5,000 miles, but the Hoosier city and many of its residents are showing their support for the people of the eastern European nation under attack by neighboring Russia.
Alex Morozov, a Carmel resident originally from Ukraine, helped organize a Feb 26 rally to support Ukraine on Monument Circle in Indianapolis. He said he was pleased by the turnout of hundreds of people, many of them holding blue and yellow flags and signs.
Morozov’s been constantly in touch with family members still in Ukraine, including his father and brother in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital and a target of Russian forces. The windows in his brother’s apartment shattered as a result of the attack, Morozov said, leading his brother to take cover for hours in a bathroom.
Morozov, however, is optimistic about Ukraine’s future.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin did not expect that Ukraine would join united, despite all differences,” said Morozov, a business owner who has offices in Carmel and Ukraine. “Ukraine is united, and because of this I believe we will prevail. We’re strong, and we will prevail.”
Carmel residents Diamond and Matt Wittlief and their two children, Tommy, 11, and Samantha, 6, attended the rally in downtown Indianapolis, homemade signs in hand. Their neighbor is Ukrainian, and they traveled to Monument Circle to show their support for her and the nation as a whole.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Diamond Wittlief said. “We always tell our kids, ‘If you see someone else being bullied, you stand up to the bully. You don’t walk away. You don’t look the other way, even if you think it’s not your problem and you don’t know the kid. It’s still the right thing to do.’ Hopefully, this is reinforcing that notion.”
U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, a Republican who represents Indiana’s 5th District, also attended the rally. Spartz, who was born in Ukraine, has been vocal about the “lack of leadership and strategy on multiple fronts” by the U.S. government in its response.
“I would also like to ask my fellow Americans to stand with the people of Ukraine in their fight for peace and freedom against evil,” she said in a statement issued by her office. “They are fighting this war not just for them, but for all of us. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers and be vigilant in our fight to preserve our freedoms for our children and for all people who died for them.”
Mayor: ‘We feel their pain’
The City of Carmel is showing its support for Ukraine by changing the lights on the Monon Greenway bridge over Carmel Drive and the ambient lighting in Midtown Plaza to blue and yellow.
“We stand in full support of the people of Ukraine who are fighting for representative government and their freedom,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard stated. “We are fortunate here in Carmel to have many residents of Ukrainian descent, and we want them to know that we feel their pain and we hope and pray for peace in their homeland.”