Many of the protesters had personal connections to the conflict.
One of the event’s organizers, Olga Gorman, said she moved to the U.S. from Kyiv jt six months ago after getting married. But many of her family members are still in Ukraine, including her brother and sister. She texts them frequently to check on them, but prefers to speak with them by phone when possible so she can hear their voices.
The weeks since Rsia’s invasion have been agonizing, she said. Her brother lives in Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second-largest city, located in the northeast corner of the country — which has seen some of the heaviest shelling so far by Rsian forces.
“He’s a responsible man, but of course I am worried,” Gorman said. “Tomorrow, it could be your hoe (that’s destroyed). Nobody knows.”
Gorman said that while she appreciates the U.S.’s support for Ukraine, she fears civilians will continue to die in large numbers unless the U.S. and its allies establish a no-fly zone over the country.
“Kids are dying every day,” she said. “It’s not enough.”
In a live video address to Congress on March 16, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with U.S. leaders to do more to support his country’s fight against Rsia. Shortly after, President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in aid for Ukraine, including anti-aircraft systems, drones and more. But he and NATO leaders have rebuffed calls to establish a no-fly zone over the country, over fears that such a move could spark a wider conflict.
Many of the protesters gathered Saturday signaled with their signs and words that they believe a move to close the skies over Ukraine should be considered.
Joane Dutko Wachs, a Marietta resident who has extended family still living in Ukraine and whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from the country, said she fears Rsian President Vladimir Putin has aspirations beyond jt conquering Ukraine.
“I understand both sides of it, but I think we need to have a more aggressive posture,” she said. “This isn’t just for Ukraine — this is for democracy.”