Sorrow and Sacrifice: Ukraine’s Maidan Square and the Heroes of Its Struggle


On a sunny day, a solemn atmosphere pervaded the Maidan, Independence Square in Kyiv. Flags bearing the names of fallen soldiers and fallen heroes fluttered in the gentle breeze, as families and loved ones gathered to pay their respects. Amid the Ukrainian flags, a young man sat surrounded by his family, his eyes fixed on a particular flag with an air of reverence. His mother, overcome with emotion, spoke briefly, her words lost in the midst of sorrow.

The Maidan, a symbol of Ukraine’s struggle for independence from Russia, had become a national cemetery, with its lush green areas planted with flags honoring those who had given their lives for their country’s freedom. The sound of weeping and whispers of gratitude mingled with the rustling of leaves, creating an atmosphere of profound respect and grief.

As a hearse made its way through the square, the families gathered around, carrying the bodies of their loved ones to a final rest. The funeral processions added to the sense of loss, as mourners gathered to bid a last farewell.

“The war has brought a new tradition, a funeral moment on this square to thank those who have sacrificed their lives,” said Rev. Sergiy Berezhnoy, a military chaplain of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, in a somber tone. “We want all Ukraine to see how we cherish their sacrifice, how we acknowledge the importance of this moment in our lives. We want to say that these are our heroes.”

Amid the sea of flags, a large crucifix stood tall, a beacon of faith in a city torn apart by war and sorrow. The juxtaposition of the secular and the sacred was a natural one for the Ukrainian people, who had known both political and religious repression.

For Rev. Berezhnoy, who hails from the Donbas region, the connection between faith and country was deeply personal. His grandmother had survived the Holodomor, a devastating famine inflicted by Josef Stalin’s policies. “Despite the Soviet persecution, she and other grandmothers and grandfathers kept their faith alive, passing it down to the next generation despite the pressure,” he recalled.

Joel Gehrke
Joel Gehrke
Joel Gehrke is a foreign affairs reporter, with an emphasis on U.S. competition with China and Russia, Middle East policy following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, and the crisis in Venezuela. Previously, he covered domestic politics for National Review Online.

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