Russia Day Celebration

About 300 Russian nationals and Americans joined together to celebrate the first annual Russia Day celebration at the Chicago Cultural Center on Monday, June 13.

As the co-chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, I was proud to help organize this event in honor of Russia’s national holiday, which is celebrated on June 12 and commemorates the day in 1990 when the Russian parliament formally declared sovereignty over Russia.

Sergey I. Kislyak, the Ambassador of Russia to the United States, gave the keynote speech of the evening, highlighting the importance of recognizing how far Russia has come in the 21 years since it relinquished communisim and entered a democratic, capitalistic era.

“We have a new generation of Russians who have lived only in modern Russia,” Ambassador Kislyak said, adding that this new, modern Russia is looking forward to an even closer relationship with the United States.

Other speakers included Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, who provided his remarks via video; Prince Piotr Galitzien, chairman of TMK IPSCO; and Terry Laird, director of operations of the Russian-owned company NLMK of Indiana.

Several of the speakers talked about how networking events like Russia Day are important in strengthening the ties between the United States and Russia

“I think the cooperation we can have internationally can enhance all of our lives,” Mr. Laird said.

As I looked out over the packed room of guests and listened to both national anthems, I felt a surge of patriotism for both countries. It is through events like these that Americans and Russians have the opportunity to learn more about each other’s cultures, which in turn leads to more collaboration between both nations.

In addition to the speeches, the event included an elegant cocktail reception and catered hors d’ouevres featuring Russian cuisine, as well as performances by Golosa, a Russian folk choir from the University of Chicago; Russian-American cellist and composer Ian Maksin; opera soprano Heather Aranyi; The Joffrey Ballet’s Academy of Dance; and the Pontifical Choir of the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Des Plaines.

I was inspired by the phenomenal performances by all of the artists who showcased the best of Russian music as well as their own, original creations.

The most gratifying part of the evening was how genuinely the guests thanked me after the event for recognizing Russia’s national holiday.

Ben Glozman, who moved from Russia to the United States 20 years ago, said this event helped him feel more patriotic about the holiday.

“Before that, it was just another day,” he said, adding that he is hopeful events like this will improve relations between Russia and the United States.

I hope this is an event that will be held again and again!