GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens gathered in Rosa Parks Circle Sunday afternoon to celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day and stand with Ukrainians who are still fighting for freedom in Ukraine. 

Ukraine gained independence 32 years ago on Aug. 24 from the Soviet Union. This is the first year of the Ukrainian Independence Day Rally in Grand Rapids, and it was organized by a group formed this year. 

The Ukrainian Society of Michigan is a nonprofit organization that works to bring together and celebrate those in the Ukrainian community. It also helps Ukrainian refugees when they come to Michigan. 

At Sunday’s rally in Rosa Parks Circle, organizers said they want everyone to know how resilient the Ukrainian people are and how vibrant their culture is.

“It’s very good when something like this happens because people from all over West Michigan can come together in one place and talk to each other, share their experiences and celebrate their culture and their national holidays. So this is a very good opportunity just to be together,” Anna Kovalenko, the president and co-founder of the Ukrainian Society of Michigan, said. 

The Ukrainian Society of Michigan is also working on an English interactive program for Ukrainians who do not speak English and they are in the works of getting more Ukrainian movies into local theaters. They also provide mental health, social and informational support to the Ukrainian community in Michigan.