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Today we are ushering a great Ukrainian on his final journey. Roman Olynyk-Rakhmanny, a person of heroic destiny and prophetic talent, was one of the most brilliant figures of twentieth-century Ukraine.
On this day of grief and parting, we are still unable completely to grasp the magnitude of the loss that has taken us by surprise. For Roman Rakhmanny was a unique phenomenon in Ukrainian politics, literature, and journalism. His works comprise a monumental and tragic encyclopedia of the Ukrainian struggle for independence—a dazzling collection of ideas, hypotheses, predictions, facts, and names.
Without a doubt Roman Olynyk-Rakhmanny was a figure of the Ukrainian Renaissance and will remain so in our history. But in contrast to the writers of the executed Renaissance, Roman Rakhmanny refused to become a victim of the Communist regime. He entered the battle against the red “horsemen of the Apocalypse.” His mightiest weapon became the word, and his heroic struggle in the ranks of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army gained him immortality.
Although Roman Rakhmanny’s works embraced a variety of themes and forms, they were united by a single passion, one fiery love—love for Ukraine and the desire to see his beloved native land within the family of free European nations.
Ukraine is more than just a topic—it is the body and blood of Rakhmanny’s creativity. He crafted the conception of a global Ukrainian identity and achieved renown through his profound reflections on what it means to be a person of the Ukrainian civilization in the contemporary world.
Ukraine—her past, present, and future—always remained at the centre of his concerns. The title of Rakhmanny’s three-volume collection of works, Ukraine of the Atomic Age, which was awarded the Shevchenko State Prize, became symbolic. Ukraine’s atomic age means the nuclear menace of the Cold War and the catastrophe of Chornobyl. It is not merely the perils of radiation but the dangers of assimilation and homogenization of Ukrainians in an increasingly globalizing world. Roman Rakhmanny was a prophet and a state builder. He was constructing an independent Ukrainian state even in the days when few believed in such a possibility. His building materials were words, ideas, and dreams—seemingly weak and ephemeral materials for building a state. But they turned out to be everlasting ones.
Together with Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Ivan Bahriany, Roman Rakhmanny was one of the first Ukrainians in the diaspora who came to believe that “a real base exists in the Ukrainian SSR for Ukrainian activists who long to implement Ukrainian policies.”
In his article “An Appeal from the Fighting Ukraine to the Entire Ukrainian Emigration,” written in 1949, more than half a century ago, Roman Rakhmanny wrote prophetically about the inevitable dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of free national states on the ruins of the Red Empire.
Despite all his sufferings, Roman Rakhmanny was a happy man. He lived to see Ukraine become an independent state and occupy a worthy geopolitical place in the world.
The three-volume work entitled Ukraina atomnoho viku (Ukraine of the Atomic Age, 1987-91), encompassing the journalistic works of Roman Rakhmanny, attracted the attention of large numbers of politicians, scholars, journalists, and publicists. It was widely reviewed, with critics noting that the body of Rakhmanny’s writings enriches “the theory and practice of world journalism, and is an instrument for researching life and predicting the development of socio-political thought in the contemporary world.” For this work, Roman Rakhmanny received Ukraine’s highest award, the Shevchenko State Prize in March 1994.
Today I am appearing here not only as the Ambassador of the new and independent Ukraine and a political activist and statesman, but also as a Ukrainian writer and member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine. Grief is filling the hearts of all Ukrainian patriots, for whom the name of Roman Olynyk-Rakhmanny is inscribed in gold letters in the history of Ukraine and in the heroic chronicle of Ukrainian writing.
I wish to express my most heartfelt sympathies to the family members and friends of the deceased.
May Roman Rakhmanny rest in peace. May his soul abide in the Ukrainian heaven, so that he may see and hear what is happening in Ukraine.
May his memory be eternal!
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