“The whole point of the march is to feel union and show union, demonstrate that we’re strong, we’re together, that we’re going to be OK,” she said before the rally.
In the morning, she was on the phone with her mother in Ukraine, overhearing the sound of air-raid sirens. It was time for her mother and father, along with the dozens of fellow Ukrainians they were hosting at their home outside Kyiv, to seek safety in a shelter. “We have no idea what’s going to happen,” Ms. Zlotnikova said.
During the event, during which dozens of people held sunflowers, Ukraine’s national flower, organizers spoke out for compassion and peace despite what they said was a cruel, inhumane attack from Russia.
“The evil hearts of those who initiated this are poisoned with hatred,” one organizer said. “But hate will always lose to love.”
On a warm, sunny day in Apopka, Fla., a community outside Orlando, what was originally planned as a gleeful weekend festival celebrating the culture of Ukraine became something far different.
There were the usual hallmarks of a happy gathering: a bandura player plucked at his instrument on an amphitheater stage. Pierogies and holopchi sold under a makeshift tent. Families dressed in yellow and blue. But instead of joy, there were red-rimmed eyes, deep sighs, fatigue and fear.
“All of my friends and family are in Ukraine,” said Myroslava Semerey, 58, tears dripping down her face. She came from Washington, D.C., to sell clothes and baubles at the festival, but by the time she arrived, the three-day event had turned into part rally, part vigil.