During the course of the stupendous weekend in Lviv, Ukraine to celebrate the birthday of Frederik Cyrus Roeder, which he hosted with the lovely Maria Semykoz, we embarked on a historical tour of the downtown. For one hour, over 60 curious humans representing a plethora of national flags sauntered at will, between narrow alleys, and over snow-trapped cobblestones.

We uncovered the history of the city called Lviv, formerly Lemberg, Lwów, and Leopolis. We mourned, we laughed, we pondered, we celebrated, but we only scratched at the surface of a great metropolitan history. A history as rich as the culture of the Ukrainian people, but as devastating as any city torn apart by the brutal forces of war and destruction of the human spirit.

We ended with a reading of the poem “My Testament” by Ukrainian dissident, activist, and poet Taras Schevchenko at the foot of his memorial in the city of Lviv.

“Oh bury me, then rise ye up
And break your heavy chains
And water with the tyrants’ blood
The freedom you have gained.
And in the great new family,
The family of the free,
With softly spoken, kindly word
Remember also me.” (at Lviv, Ukraine)