State Leaders Hold Vigil in Solidarity with Ukraine
Several dozen people gathered in front of the State House on Wednesday evening, holding battery-powered candles and blue and yellow flags in a vigil to show solidarity with Ukraine, as Russian forces escalate their attacks that began last week.
“Tonight, as we lift up the people of Ukraine with our prayers, they are lifting us up with incredibly inspiring displays of courage and resolve,” Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said in front of the State House, its pillars adorned with blue and yellow stripes and Ukrainian flags in between.
Before Hogan spoke, the Ukrainian national anthem played from speakers, and some of the crowd chanted along to it.
Hogan highlighted an action he took on Monday, in which he dissolved Maryland’s sister-state relationship with Russia’s Leningrad region that was established in 1993. He called on the Maryland State Retirement Pension system to take “immediate divestment actions with regard to any investments, securities or holdings with Russian or Russian-affiliated entities,” a move that he said would be a symbolic way to send a clear message to Russia.
“Slava Ukraini” or “Glory to Ukraine,” the crowd repeated after Hogan.
At the end of the Senate floor session on Monday morning, Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Pensions, said that her committee will hold a virtual briefing with the State Pension System on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. to better understand what investments the state has with Russia and to discuss next possible steps.
“We don’t want a dollar to go to them, and we want to send that message to the companies or anybody in the state of Maryland that it’s unacceptable,” Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s) said Monday morning.
At the vigil, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) likened the Russian attacks, which he called unjustified and unprovoked, to the Bible story “David and Goliath,” in which David protected “the highest ideals of democratic governance and self-determination.”
“This building behind me has seen its fair share of David and Goliath fights and knows from history that David will win and will always win because here, in the state of Maryland, in the United States, across the globe and especially in the country of Ukraine — right matters,” Ferguson said.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) said Maryland would continue to stand with Ukraine’s fight for basic human rights and freedom.
“Regardless of what side of the aisle we stand on individually, collectively we are unified under our core values of freedom and liberty,” Jones said. “That is the only way we’ll win this war against tyranny. That is the only way democracy will win.”
Dorothy Blaszkiw, a first-generation Ukrainian-American, attended the vigil with her husband, and held a large candle and a Ukrainian flag in solidarity with Ukrainians, including her family who are currently living in Western Ukraine.
“They’re still safe, although they are hearing the air sirens, the bombings from afar,” said Blaszkiw, who lives in Columbia, and communicates with her family daily.
“I think about them all the time, and I’m angry that it had to come to this,” she said.
Blaszkiw described Ukraine as a “peaceful, friendly country that didn’t do anything to provoke” the invasion from Russia.
“We’ve been going to rallies wherever they are — here or in D.C. — and we’ve been praying that somebody can stop Putin from continuing to kill innocent people,” she said.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct a reference to the date of the vigil.