Ukrainians living in Jacksonville to meet in Memorial Park for event marking year since beginning of Russia’s invasion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s been nearly one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started a war between the two neighboring countries.

President Joe Biden, who is in Poland after his lightning trip to Ukraine, declared during a speech that there are “hard and bitter days ahead” in fighting off Russia’s invasion. A day after his surprise trip to Kyiv, Biden gave a major speech in Warsaw and met with the presidents of Poland and Moldova.

On Friday, the day marking a year since the invasion, members of Jacksonville’s Ukrainian community will come together for an event at Memorial Park in Riverside.

Maria Sokalska, an 80-year-old now living in Jacksonville, left Ukraine when the conflict began.

“I was not that much scared. My kids were scared for me,” she told us.

Alina Mychka moved to Jacksonville seven years ago from Ukraine. She said that when Russia invaded her home country last year, her relatives thought the fighting wouldn’t last long.

“It was a total shock and, of course, some of my relatives thought it was for a week. Maybe last for a couple of months. But, for a year? It’s unbelievable,” Mychka said.

Mychka says her mother came to Jacksonville for six months and then returned to Ukraine. She is back with Mychka’s father and brother in a safe location. When the war first started, able-bodied men had to stay and fight,

“They believe that they have to do what they have to do in Ukraine,” she said.

During Biden’s speech Tuesday, he pledged that the United States and its allies “will never waver” in their support as the war enters its second year.

“It’s very great and the whole world is helping a lot. Especially, the United States as the mother of democracy,” Sokalska said.

Biden’s trip is aimed at solidifying Western unity as Ukraine and Russia are preparing spring offensives. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead, devastated Ukraine’s infrastructure system and wreaked havoc on the global economy.

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