HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A group of Ukrainian immigrants, refugees, and American supporters came together on Saturday to celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day. Dozens of people gathered to remember those lost in the war and to support those still fighting for the cause, including two Alabamians.
“It means a lot to us because it also shows that you care about Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” said event speaker Nazar Pyvovar.
It has been 31 years since Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union, but during this year’s Independence Day, the nation continues to face a six-month-long invasion from Russia.
Many Ukrainians living in North Alabama said their nation will continue fighting.
“We believe that Ukraine will win,” Pyvovar said.
Two Alabamians, Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh also believe in the cause.
“He fell in love with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” said Bunny Brueke, the mother of Alex Drueke.
Drueke and Huynh each traveled to Ukraine to help with the war effort. On June 9, their unit came under fire north of the city of Kharkiv, and the two were captured by Russian forces.
Their loved ones are still waiting for their release. In the meantime, the Drueke and Huynh families said the Ukrainian community has come together to support them.
“It means the world to me,” Bunny Drueke said. “We had no connection with Ukraine before, and so for us to be able to come and meet Ukrainians and experience what Andy and Alex experienced when they met them, like Alex said, they’re so appreciative and generous and kind.”
Joy Black, the fiancé of Andy Huynh said events like this help show the importance of what Drueke and Huynh did.
“It really helps bring it home because so many people think that this war doesn’t affect us, but the people who it affects really are here,” Black said. “It really makes a big difference.”
For more information about Drueke and Huyhn’s story, you can visit the website created by their families.