The blessing service was opened by Mr. Oleksander Oleksandrovych, of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC, and then the Ukrainian and American national anthems were sung. The Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orhtodox Chrch of the USA, Metropolitan Constantine gave opening remarks on the fitting nature of this monument, to serve the purpose of reminding the world of the millions of unmarked graves of the victims of the Holodomor – the Famine Genocide of 1932-33, orchestrated by the regime of Joseph Stalin to destroy the spirit and identity of the Ukrainian nation.
Together with Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, and Bishop Paul Chomycky of Stamford, Bishop John Bura, Very Rev. Fathers Hryhory Podhurec, Michael Kochis and Volodymyr Steliac and local Ukrainian Catholic clergy, Metropolitan Constantine conducted the blessing service, which was then followed by a Litiya for the repose of the souls of the ten million victims of this crime against the Ukrainian people. Responses were sung by and ensemble of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus.
Following the Services, His Excellency Dr. Oleh Shamshur, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States spoke to thank all those involved in the project, and to announce that a design competition will be held in Ukraine, with the winning design concept to be selected in the summer of 2009.
Ukraine’s First Lady Kateryna Yuschenko then spoke, relating not only the experiences of the family of President Viktor Yuschenko and of her own family during the famine, but also of the work being done now in Ukraine to document the testimony of Famine survivors. She highlighted the evolution of awareness of the Famine in Ukraine, beginning with the initial official denials, through a recognition based on incidental weather-related causes, to a final recognition of the intentional and planned targeting of the Ukrainian people.