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10  (ethnic) Ukrainians that affcted the United States (plus 2 bonuses)


August 24, 2016 California Senate voted a resolution that stressed the significant contribution of Ukrainian Americans in enriching economic, political and cultural heritage of California, thus congratulaing the Ukrainian community on Ukraine's Independence day.

State of Minnesota went even further and proclaimed this day as official Day, pointing out that 

"The United States and the State of Minnesota have benefited tremendously from the innovative spirit, rich culture and heritage, and determined work ethic of our Ukrainian American residents" (Full Proclamation)

It's worth while mentioning that the same positive or even better attitude toward Ukrainians is in the country north to the USA - starting 2017, Canadian Alberta each September 7 will have Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Day commemorating the day when in 1891 the first documented settlers from Ukraine came to the province.  

Let us mention at least several Ukrainian-Americans whose "innovative spirit, rich culture and determined work ethic" have brought and keep bringing numerous benefits to the United States of America and the rest of the world for that matter.


1. They created totally new means of transportation

I made friends with group of American school children who many years ago came to Ukraine on a mission trip. Some time later one boy of that group, already a marine in the US President's guard sends me a picture where he is in front of the President's helicopter. He titled the photo as "I am in front of Sikorsky".

- Do you know who and where Sikorski was from? - I asked him

- I did not know that! - he replied after some short time apperantly taken to check the information.

Yes, Ihor Sikorsky was born and tried building his first helicopter in Kyiv, Ukraine (Britannika).

In 1913 he built the first 4-engine plane and flew it on a historic 1600 mile round trip flight from Saint-Petersburg to Kyiv in 1914 (Sikorsky Archives, the plane he built and flew in better quality - Sikorsky S-22)

Because of 1917 Revolution, couple years later Sikorsky had to leave Kyiv, but he whole world benefited because he went to the US! Many lives were saved in mountains and on sea thanks to his work! The USA President can appreciate the result of his work as well.


2. They reinvent and improve what already existed 

Rotary engine. Have you heard about it? What can be new about it? A father and son, the Shkolnics, who came to the States in 1980th from Kyiv too, prove they can make it most powerful and efficient engine on the planet.

Do you believe it? The US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) was persuaded enough to invest $2.5 million in it (Company's Site)

Apart from the US Defence, the whole world will benefit by having lighter and more efficient engines.


3. They invent something new in film industry

Titanic movie. Great scenes. New angles of filming. New camera possibilities.. How was it possible?

Professional people appreciated it quickly and Two Technical Oscars go.. Two Technical Oscars go to.. Kyiv!

Kyiv again??

Namely, they go to Anatoliy Kokush, a Ukrainian film engineer.

So, the invention should be called "Ukrainian Arm", and not "russian arm" as some people mistakingly used to call it.

There are more movies mentioned on these two links with Transformers among them as well that we filmed with the "Ukrainian Arm" invention.

Filmotechnic USA, SecondFloor Gallery 


4. Ukrainians help Americans keep connections to their pets.

Just briefly mention that all the team of inventors of PetCube are from.. you guessed it - Kyiv (starts looking like that city is a TechInvention Hub of some sort, does it not?).

Every PetCube gadget should have a mark on it's back - "designed in Ukraine" by the way. Please have a look.


5. They created unforgettable movie characters.

Do many of Americans know that so beloved by many actress Natalie Wood was born as Natalia Zakarenko to the family of emigres from Kharkov, Ukraine who barely spoke English at the time? (Info)


6. What about the famous American cowboy from the Westerns an Academy Award Winner Jack Palance? Dd many of the viewers know that his his birth name was Volodymyr Palahniuk? (Wikipedia

Jack Palance never forgot his Ukrainian roots, and here is what a Canadian media recalls:

"Perhaps Jack's most Ukrainian moment came in 2004 when he was invited to the awards ceremony for the "Russian Nights" Art festival, to win the "Russian People's Choice Award" along with Dustin Hoffman. In accepting his award, Dustin Hoffman noted that his grandparents came from "Kiev, Russia" and expressed gratitude to the "Russian people". After being introduced, Palance said: "I feel like I walked into the wrong room by mistake. I think  that Russian film is interesting, but I have nothing to do with Russia or Russian film. My parents were born in Ukraine: I'm Ukrainian. I am not Russian. So, excuse me, but I do not belong here. It's best if we leave".


7. "Fifth Element" Milla Jovovich. Born in Kyiv. "Humble Ukrainian girl" as she often calls herself.

Sings Ukrainian songs on almost professional level (Youtube) 

Her mother was an actress at a Ukrainian film studio as well by the way. That is how they both looked  in Kyiv almost 40 years ago.


(About the "Lilu" image. "Don Quixote" of Russian democracy, Valeria Novodvorskaya in one of her last interviews compared the fight Ukraine is fighting with Russia with the Biblical fight between David and Goliath and predicted that Ukraine will inevitably win. She also expressed her disappointemt with the willingess of the modern Western democracies to stand for their values and withstand Putin's Russia, adding that in her opinion "Ukraine - is probably the only hope of the current world''. Just like the Fifth Element, some people said in commenting that speech.. Fifth Element Country, huh?) 



8. Ukrainian folk songs already affected American music culture.

Not many people know that famous "Summertime" song has the melody of a Ukrainian lullaby "A Dream Passes by the window" ("Oi, Khodyt Son Kolo Vikon")

Ukraine is rich in great melodies and Ukrainians are good singers. Probably the best performer of Ukrainian songs is Kvitka Cisyk, an American singer of Ukrainian origin many Americans still remember ("You light up my life") 

"Kvitka" in Ukrainian means "Flower" and her initials "K.C" produced her famous name "Kasey" by the way.

Two albums of Ukrainian folk songs she recorded on her own funding are unsurpassed and well known in Ukraine as well:

Songs of Ukriane  &  My Two Colors


Stand-alone song and clip - "Two Colors"


9. The name Mykola Leontovych will not tell much to majority of the readers, but the melody he created in 1901 will surely ring the bell to every American.

First version of this melody appeared in 1901, but only in 1916 Kievan University chorus officially performed his Shedryk for the first time (press the link to listen).




10. They enrich sport with their capabilities & image

This player's parents and grandparents moved to North America from a small Ukrainian village on a Belorussian border. Let this hockey player you cannot but recognize speak for himself and the ethnic atmosphere which afected him growing up:


 "United for Ukraine" Speech


Bonus #1

Ukrainian wrestler Ivan Poddubny while touring the United States in the 1920s and staying undefeated in many wrestle bouts across the country, decided to participate in the beauty contest among men which were common at that time in the United States.  He won the contest being 56 years old!! He could not take the earned half a million dollars earned because he was not a citizen though.

(Russia is trying to use Ivan's name as a symbol of "Russian power", but one can read on what pretence they ruined his obelisk - the Russians cannot stand him being Ukrainian)


Bonus #2

Ukrainian Village was named the Hottest Neighborhood in the US by Redfin last year! (Chicagopost)

Coincidence or is it that Ukrainians are truly the ones who can create things as well as atmosphere?


Appreciate Ukrainians and Ukraine!