The Utah State Capitol Building was lit with blue and yellow to show support for Ukraine on Feb. 28 after a rally of at least a thousand people.
This was the second time the building was lit in Utah’s history. Gov. Spencer Cox also ordered the Ukrainian flag to fly above the Utah State Capitol to symbolize the state’s solidarity with Ukraine. Speakers at the rally included Gov. Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.
Participants listened to the Ukrainian national anthem at the beginning of the event. Later, Dallyn Bayles performed “Bring Him Home” and Yahosh Bonner sang “You Raise Me Up.” Lawmakers joined the crowd on the Capitol steps.
Gov. Cox recognized that rallies like this one are symbolic and may feel a little empty when innocent people are dying in the streets. But he said it matters because it brings hope to those 6,000 miles away. “They need to know that we believe in them and their righteous cause.”
He said Ukrainians are reminding people of what it means to be American. “They need us. They need the united us. They need the best of us. And we need them. And so tonight, we honor them.”
What’s happening in Europe is so much bigger than Ukraine and Russia, Henderson said. “We stand with Ukraine, not just because of what’s happening to its people, the unjust situation that they’re facing, but also because the invasion into a sovereign country highlights the fragility of all that we hold dear.”
Henderson recognized the bravery of people in Russia who have taken to the streets to protest Vladimir Putin’s lies and aggression.
“So please keep the Russian people close to your heart as well and know that we have no desire to repeat the mistakes of the past in the name of patriotism,” she said. “We’ll stand tall with anyone who has the moral courage to fight for freedom, justice and higher ideals in the face of a bitter tyrant.”
The women and children in Ukraine who have fled to border crossings reminded Mendenhall of her own family who fled Russian-occupied Lithuania during World War II. She said they came to the U.S. and found safety and achieved the American dream. “So this assault on Ukraine is personal,” she said.
Freedom is not free, she said, and democracy is only as stable as the commitment to it. “Thank you for being bold enough to stand with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”
Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan, also spoke at the rally. His wife is from Ukraine and has family there. “This assault against Ukraine is not just an assault against Ukraine, but an assault against democracy and an assault against every single one of us,” he said.
House Speaker Brad Wilson said the strength and resilience exhibited by the Ukrainian people is amazing and something that hasn’t been seen in Europe for more than 80 years. “We are proud of Ukraine’s response,” he said. “Our hearts are with them.”