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Candlelight vigil at UCCS to honor fighters, lost lives in Ukraine

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The public is invited to attend a candlelight vigil supporting Ukraine at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Tuesday evening.

The vigil, put together by the university's Student Life department and professors, is to honor those fighting and those who have lost their lives in Ukraine.

Dr. Eugenia Olesnicky, a professor at UCCS and is a first-generation American, shares her parents are World War II refugees from Ukraine. Since the start of the Russian invasion, Olesnicky told KRDO she hasn't been able to "fully function."

She explains she's worried about her family seeking shelter and trying to escape from the currently Russian-occupied Ukraine.

"My mom, one of her half-brothers, his children, and his grandchildren, I haven't heard from since last Monday, and they're in Russian-occupied Ukraine," Olesnicky says.

"I'm still holding out hope that maybe they got out but I also have to be realistic. And that's just my family, but there's thousands and thousands of other people that are in that Russian-occupied area."

Olesnicky says it's important people know the history of Ukraine and Russia.

"This conflict between Russia and Ukraine is centuries old. It's not something new, and a lot of people aren't aware of that," she says.

During the vigil, Olesnicky will be speaking on the country's history and her family ties to Ukraine.

There will also be choirs singing Ukrainian songs, like Carol of the Bells. The vigil will include a performance by professional Ukrainian Opera singer Siuzanna Iglidan, who will play the bandura, which is the Ukrainian National Instrument.

Additionally, a variety of community religious leaders of different denominations will share a few words, and the history of Ukraine will be presented, put together by several professors at UCCS.

The vigil is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the El Pomar Plaza at UCCS on the steps near the clock tower. Parking for the event is free.

A Ukrainian flag, made of smaller blue and yellow flags, will be on display on the lawn.

Candles will be available at the event, but the public is encouraged to bring their own.

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Natalie Haddad

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