Utahns rally in support of UkraineMar 28, 2022 10:14PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
Hundreds of Utahns, many clad in yellow and blue, gathered Feb. 28 at the Utah Capitol for the “Stand with Ukraine” rally. Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall were among those who addressed the crowd while members of the Utah legislature stood with them on the capitol steps. Shouts in unison of “Ukraine, Utah” and “Stop Putin” could be heard along with Ukrainian music. Many in the crowd waved the flag of Ukraine along with signs of support and solidarity for the now war-torn country.
“Autocrats like Vladimir Putin…feel emboldened. Only 20% of the world’s population live in free countries right now…During times of difficulty, there are inspiring examples…of personal courage. I know I’m not alone in the awe I feel of the brave men and women…the people of Ukraine have risen to the moment… and in doing that, they’ve given us hope. I think we all have a new hero in President Zelenskyy. He took a nontraditional path to the presidency and that path led him to this treacherous and defining moment. Courage and hope are contagious, I know we feel that contagion in Utah, in the United States and around the world,” Henderson said.
Mendenhall told the crowd that members of her family left Russian occupied Lithuania during WWII and were never able to go back, but came to America, found safety and pursued the American dream. “This assault on Ukraine is personal. Freedom is not free and our democracy is only as stable as our commitment to it. Thank you for being bold enough to stand with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine,” she said.
Cox addressed both Ukrainians and Russians who live in Utah with words of support. “To the people of Russia living in their country, we do not hold you responsible. To Russians that can possibly hear us, we need you to push back…we know your lives are in danger, but you’re putting your own lives at risk to stand up to a dictator.”
Not since the 2002 Winter Olympics has the Utah capitol building been illuminated in special colors, but beginning the evening of the rally, it is now lit in yellow and blue and the flag of Ukraine flies above it.
“Why would something 6,000 miles away compel us to come together? They need to know that we believe in them and their righteous cause,” Cox said.