CAMILLUS, N.Y. — March 9 is a sacred day for Ukrainians in their native country and abroad.
The man born that day in 1814, Taras Shevchenko, grew up to be a poet, artist and activist, using his work to help preserve the Ukrainian culture and language.
"Taras Shevchenko's poems focus on the plight of the Ukrainian people, specifically the peasantry and more lower- or middle-class citizens, because there's a huge power dynamic in Ukraine. Really, the every day person has been able to relate to his poetry", said Ukrainian-American Christina Bobesky.
People here say that power struggle continues today in Ukraine, as the country faces an unsure future regarding its sovereignty.
Hundreds throughout New York state packed Saint Luke Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Camillus on Sunday to honor Shevchenko, but for many, their hearts and minds were far away.
"We are all feeling the same thing, and it is terror at what is going on today in our country and what is happening to our brothers and sisters at home", said Father Borislav Kroner.
Many here say the news coming out of Ukraine paints a bleak picture.
"What I'm hearing now is that families are very scared. All resources have become scarce so families are finding it difficult to pay and find food. Stores have shut down, imports aren't coming in like they used to, and so the whole country is fearful", said Bobesky.
Participants say that fear and anxiety could be felt in nearly every speech given during the event, as this community struggles to help their countrymen thousands of miles away.
"People have provided financial support, people are trying to provide medical support, they're trying to do whatever they can", said Ukrainian-American Martha Wojtowycz.
All we spoke to here agree – the only solution they'll accept is one that ends in peace.
According to organizers, the celebration brought together people from at least three different faiths.