'Ukraine can surprise you': Lexington prayer vigil attracts large crowd

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Posted at 10:40 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 23:10:34-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Lexington Wednesday night for a prayer vigil in support of Ukraine, as the country tries to fend off invading Russian forces.

Mayor Linda Gorton's International Affairs Advisory Commission organized the vigil, which included participation from members of Lexington's Ukrainian community, as well as comments from interfaith leaders.

The vigil came as people around the world continued to express their outrage over Russia's attack on Ukraine, now in its seventh day.

"It's atrocious," said Campbell Wood, who attended the vigil. "I'm just wanting to see peace there."

Wood was one of many people dressed in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

"The world is united in saying, 'We won't stand for this,'" said Mary Claire O'Neal. "This is not acceptable."

All of the speakers at the vigil echoed similar messages: Russia's invasion is unjustified and wrong, and an attack on one sovereign democratic country is an attack on democracies around the world.

Viruscha Cunningham, who was born in Ukraine, said she was heartened by the outpouring of support.

"Ukraine can surprise you," she said of Ukrainians' will to fight.

Holding a sign in Ukrainian that read 'Glory to Ukraine,' Cunningham spoke of her family in the western part of the country.

"They're scared," she said. "But they're doing good. They trust their president."

While Cunningham is hopeful Ukraine can prevail against Russia, others painted a picture of a bleak future.

"I think there will be a lot of blood," said Christel Broady, Ph.D., a professor at Georgetown College.

Broady, whose family lives in Germany, is the European representative to the city's International Affairs Advisory Commission.

"For people in Europe, this is real," she said. "They are not dying right now, but they know what that means and they are aware that one single trigger of somebody making a mistake can put all of NATO at war."

Broady said her mother, who lived under Soviet Union rule in East Germany, cries on the phone every day.

"She's so distraught," Broady said. "She doesn't want to live anymore."