President Zelenskyy’s Independence Day Speech
24 August, 2019

"Every day I begin with a text message. A text message from the General Staff that reads: over the past day, seven shellings, two deaths. The numbers differ. But only one message makes a good morning. One with zeros. Shellings - 0, losses - 0. And now let us thank those who enabled us to be here today, under the bright sun and clear blue skies. And so that our standing ovations are heard by our defenders, who are now defending Ukraine in the east of our country. Thanks to you, we are celebrating the 28th anniversary of independence today.

Although it is not entirely accurate to say that Ukraine is 28 years old. Indeed, before 1991, we had done a lot. The Baptism of Kyivan Rus took place. Ivan Fedorov published the Apostle in Lviv. Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was founded. Cossacks with Bohdan Khmelnytskyi and Ivan Serko captured the Dunkirk fortress. Pylyp Orlyk’s Constitution was born. Ukraine was one of the founding countries of the UN. And Serhiy Koroliov made a significant contribution to mankind’s conquest of space.

These are just a few very important events from our glorious history - of a country that is at the same time centuries-old and young.

But today we celebrate, maybe the most important day in the life of the state. The day when the country gained independence. Today, a whole generation born in an independent Ukraine has grown. For them, this is a normal state of affairs, for them, it could not be otherwise. And this is wonderful because this generation is our mental support. A pillar of freedom, democracy, and development. They think differently, they think in a modern way, which means that Ukraine will only move forward.

At the same time, we must not forget that independence did not appear by magic. The active struggle for it began more than a hundred years ago. It continued in the era of the Soviet Union. Mykola Rudenko, Vasyl Stus, Petro Grygorenko, Vyacheslav Chornovol, Levko Lukyanenko, participants of the revolution on granite - this is not a complete list of those who fought for the independence of Ukraine, some at the cost of their own freedom, and some at the cost of their own lives. For the sake of just one day - August 24, 1991. This day was inevitable. Because, as Levko Lukyanenko said, the desire for independence is embedded in our genetic code.

28 years have passed. 28 different years, difficult, complex, thorny, but years that we all share. And all these years we have lived together, the whole country. Throughout the country, we pulled kravchuchky (shopping stroller carts), we cut coupons. And, frankly, we watched “the rich cry too.” Vouchers were bought all over the country, we dressed up as Malvinas, and those who were lucky had pagers. Throughout the country, we jumped to a record height of 6 meters 14 centimeters, we were first crossing the pools of Sydney and Athens, we cried on the Olympic pedestal in Atlanta, when our Ukrainian flag was raised. The whole country made sure the powerhouses of European football, when Luzhnyi from Lviv received a pass from Holovko from Kherson, and then gave it to Rebrov from Horlivka, who passed to Kyivan Shevchenko. Then “Goal!” was heard from Uzhgorod to Luhansk.

The whole country flew to the stars with Leonid Kadeniuk. And rejoiced when the outer space for the first time in history heard Ukraine’s anthem.

The whole country stood in line for the first McDonald's and listened to Kuzma’s (Ukrainian musician -ed.) “Tanets Pinhvina” (“Penguin Dance”). We anticipated “Armageddon 2000” and rejoiced in the morning that we survived it. The whole country conquered Europe with some [wild] dancing and the whole country defended its democratic choice in 2004.

The whole country prayed for the Faina sailors captured by Somali pirates and cried over the miners at the Zasyadko mine.

The whole country was having fun when a wreath fell on someone. We tried to get to Euro 2012 and the whole country failed to understand how it was possible not to see the goal against England.

These were different years. Different, difficult. But now, looking back, we can say that up to a certain point they were carefree.

Because that’s when 2014 came.

At first, we proved to the whole country that we all have dignity. That we are not afraid of water cannons and batons. And some of us did not even fear sniper bullets. Then the whole country learned that a hundred can be Heavenly.

Then war came to our Ukrainian land.

Which we met as a whole country. And here “the whole country” is no longer just an artistic device. Literally, we as a whole country found the money for body armor, medicines, thermal imagers. The whole country was on the Internet and on television screens, we were chained to news from the East, news, where words lost their meaning. And the eyes only saw names. Names of settlements and dead heroes.

And paradoxically, but then we were born for a second time. As a country and as a society. We teamed up and remembered that forgotten feeling when you are proud of your Motherland. That is why today the pride of Ukraine has gathered here. First of all, these are our warriors. Those who defended and who are now defending our land. These are military families — those who have lost a son, a father, a husband, a brother or a sister. These are volunteers, those who help, and sometimes give up everything they have. There are also those who teach and those who save lives. Every single day. Those who glorify the country in sports arenas around the world. Our scientific and creative potential. And, of course, our future: our children are here. These people are not just participants in the March of Dignity - these are our thousands of reasons to love Ukraine.

You know, I was once asked: why do you love Ukraine? That’s an odd question. Why do you love your mother? She gave birth to you. She raised you, set you on your feet. I love Ukraine because I was born here. I love our flag. And I rejoice when it flies triumphantly. I love our anthem because it is our main banger. What other song does each of us, every Ukrainian, know and sing like that?

I love our land. Because every corner of Ukraine is a big family.

And for those who do not understand the current pain of Ukrainians, I will explain in a very simple, really simple language: imagine that, for example, a neighbor robbed you of two children. The first child was just stolen. He was issued a new birth certificate. And then they say: “No, we did not take your child, he himself chose to live with us. So what, that it was forced at gunpoint. That’s his desire. And anyway, who told you that this is YOUR child. He has always been ours. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine here, we have a beautiful house by the sea in the sun."

And thus, five years have passed. And those who were so worried now say: “Yes, it seems, everything is fine, the child is no longer crying for you. And actually, he’s not really like you. ”

Why do they say that? Because it is not their child.

​And your other child was locked in a children's room. And they installed armed guards. They say to you: “What protection? There is nobody there".

And you hear how here, behind the wall, your child is crying. But you cannot go there.

Each day, each of us breaks our hearts. And any victories and achievements are incomplete, while our family is incomplete.

But the day will come. and we will definitely get together. It’s because the voice of native blood will triumph.

Dear Ukrainians!

We are different. But we are one and must be one. Because only then are we strong. We understand that we can only rely on ourselves. We must not quarrel over the past, but unite for the future. We are all different - Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking, regardless of age, gender, religion - we must be single people. Not on posters, not in slogans, but in the heart. We must move forward. We must do the impossible together. And every morning I say to myself: “I am Ukrainian, and I can do everything!”

Our land is unique, wonderful, unconquered, incredible, amazing, fabulous, beautiful. If it were not for our Motherland, humanity might not have known these words, because they were all created in order to describe Ukraine.

And today [our country] celebrates the 28th anniversary of independence. And over the past year, we have done the most important thing - we have increased, preserved independence and freedom. And we are keeping it today.

Some at the cost of their freedom, and some at the cost of their own lives.

On this important day, we believe that another - no less significant - date will soon appear on the Ukrainian calendar. The specific date and month are not important in this case.

It will be the day when peace comes.

And then my morning will begin with  a text message: over the past 24 hours, a thousand boys and one thousand one girls were born in Ukraine.

Happy Birthday, Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!"