RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Ukrainian Association of North Carolina gathered in Downtown Raleigh to mark one year since Russian tanks stormed across the border and launched an unprovoked war.
More than a hundred people gathered on the steps of the State Capitol grounds to light candles and remember those who fought and died for their freedom and independence.
"The last year has been stressful every single day for Ukrainians across the world," said Misha Shvets, who got to one knee Friday night to honor those lost.
Misha is a PHD student at UNC Chapel Hill. His whole family is in the city of Dnipro, where he grew up.
"Several rockets hit not far from her house," he said. "This war: even if you don't get killed, if you don't get physically injured, the whole population of Ukraine suffers."
Nataliia Bondarenko left Ukraine last July and wound up in North Carolina.
"I'm as homesick as I possibly can be," she said. "I wish I were back home and I'm hoping and praying I will be back soon."
Bondarenko is here as part of the US government's Uniting for Ukraine program.
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It provides a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come and stay temporarily for two years.
"It is a big deal for the whole Democratic world to support and stand next to Ukraine because right now Ukraine is fighting the greatest evil in the world," Nataliia said.
It helped that a lot of Katya Panacevych lives in Raleigh when she fled Kyiv. She's here on the same program as Bondarenko.
"After our victory, of course I want to go back to Ukraine," she said. "Meetings like this are very important too because everybody will remember and try and help."
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