SAN DIEGO — Ahead of the one-year remembrance for the war in Ukraine, a bell ceremony took place Thursday at the Air and Space Museum at Balboa Park.
The Spirit of Foundation provided the iconic American iconic bell to be rung 365 times by members of the community, Ukrainian refugees, organizations in support of Ukrainian aid.
“It’s a sobering experience knowing from my ringing of the bell, people died on that day,” said Jonathan Brook, who has been to Ukraine four times since the war started.
The bell was rung 365 times to symbolize one year, each day of the Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
Josh Levine, a House of Ukraine volunteer, said, “people are still having their homes destroyed, children are still getting kidnapped into Russia, and I want to make sure I’m participant in history and not an observer.”
Levine is also a former Marine and an Afghanistan war veteran.
“I saw a country that was willing to stand up for its own freedom, and it resonated with me a lot,” Levine said.
When the war started, Levine said he donated his leftover combat gear. Since then, he has sent loads of relief supplies and cold weather gear to Ukraine.
Levine said, “I know firsthand from helping some of the people we have connections with the donations we made have absolutely saved people’s lives over there and made a difference. And then once you get connections with people you feel like I can’t let these guys down.”
“It’s rewarding and sobering to see the bravery and the dedication of the firefighters who are there, who are digging through the rubble to rescue people,” Brook said.
Brook is planning his fifth trip back to Ukraine since the war started, to continue documenting the war through film.
His wife is Ukrainian, and the two of them have gone back and forth to Ukraine multiple times throughout the years. Brook described going back to Ukraine during the war has been humbling.
“It’s knowing every place where you see ruble human cost of that. The people that were killed their lives were cut short,” Brook said.
At the bell ceremony, support and recognition was felt from Ukraine’s neighboring citizens.
“Just more than anything I would like to mention that Belarus stands with Ukraine,” said Anton Dotsenko, from Belarus.
Dotsenko has been an American citizen since 2013, and now lives in San Diego.
The House of Ukraine is hosting more events all weekend to commemorate the one-year since the invasion of Russia. Visit www.houseofukraine.org for more details.
“I did not expect how brave the nation would be. At front lines and those people showed a beautiful example of the best human quality that could be,” Dotsenko said.