Missouri Ukrainians and supporters gather for peace amid camaraderie, hugs and honking horns
Ukrainian residents in Columbia were among those gathered Wednesday afternoon for a second peace vigil calling for an end to the violence taking place as the Russian invasion stretched into its fifth and sixth days.
At the corner of Providence and Broadway in downtown Columbia, car horns sounded every few seconds signaling the support of passersby.
Several signs held by the group at the intersections relayed messages such as: “Stop the bombs” and “Honk for peace and planet,” among others.
The peace rally was organized by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks' Mark Haim.
“Our fellow citizens and our fellow neighbors make a difference if we reach them and let them know that there are lots of us that want to see peace,” Haim said to the demonstrators gathered late Wednesday afternoon. “[We] want to see an end to this war. And we need to do everything we can to get this message out.”
Olha Kholod is a Ukrainian living in Columbia, and she has family in Kyiv.
“All of our days now are very different,” she said. “We do not sleep at night, we stay awake as much as we can. We check on our relatives every two to three hours and we freak out when we cannot reach them because they are sheltering. They are hiding in the bathrooms.”
All of our days now are very different. We do not sleep at night, we stay awake as much as we can. We check on our relatives every two to three hours and we freak out when we cannot reach them because they are sheltering. They are hiding in the bathrooms.
Logan and Viktoria Muehlman held their child next to a sign that read “Children aren’t Nazis.” Shortly before the Russian attacks on Ukraine, the young couple visited their friends and family there. They spoke of their family with emotion.
“I have my mom, my dad, my brother, my five-year-old niece,” said Viktoria Muehlman. “My father is in territorial defense right now with my uncle. In the middle of the night, they don’t have anything.”
Logan Muehlman added: “They have an automatic weapon. They have an AK-47 and the clothes they are wearing.”
Viktoria continued: “Well, I wake up and I just call my family and see, like, ‘Are you guys alive? Let me know that you’re okay.’ You know when I see their text it’s just like, ‘Okay, phew! They are fine. They are okay. They are alive for another day.’ Who knows, I don’t know I will not talk to them tomorrow.”
Despite the sadness and emotion shrouded over the corner of Providence and Broadway, camaraderie filled the air. The men and women who showed up at the peace rally draped in Ukraine’s blue and yellow found comfort in the shared hugs, stories and laughs they shared in between the supportive honking from passing cars.