We were glued to CNN watching what turned out to be the final days of the Soviet Union. Watching those brave people in Moscow and their leaders stand up to tyranny and tanks with only their spirit and hope, I could not help noticing that as the days progressed an increasing number of Ukrainian flags, at times rivaling the number of Russian flags, were being waved in front of the Russian White House (which ironically faces the Hotel Ukraina and Naberezhna Taras Shevchenko).
Over dinner that evening, I remember my father innocently saying if this coup fails, Ukraine will declare independence immediately. Later that week, it was becoming clear the coup was being defeated but quite disappointingly for the Ukrainian-American community, Friday evening had come and gone and there was no news from Ukraine regarding any declarations of independence.
That weekend my father decided to check the family into one of the mega-casino and hotel resorts in Atlantic City. We were all huddled around the TV Saturday morning, when we heard a CNN anchor say the words that changed everything for Ukrainians around the world, “We can now confirm that the Soviet Republic of Ukraine has just declared independence.”