The Greater Philadelphia Area Ukrainian American community gathered on Thursday, May 23, 2019, to pay tribute to a leader in Congress and good friend of Ukraine, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. The Ukrainian Federation of America (UFA) hosted its Annual Award Reception at which U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, was awarded the Alexander B. Chernyk Medal for his leadership, vision and courage.
The event was co-hosted by two former Co-Chairs of the Caucus, Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick. Congressman Charles F. Dougherty, founder and first Co-Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Baltic States and Ukraine which was formed during the Soviet regime, served as Master of Ceremony.
As a Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI, Brian Fitzpatrick traveled the world promoting freedom and democracy. His focus was on fighting political corruption and supporting global counter-terrorism efforts. As an expert in that role he was assigned to develop an anti-corruption bureau in Ukraine. He spent four months working with Ukrainian counterparts on this special project to implement the vital procedures that safeguard fragile democracies. His leadership role on that assignment gave him an insight into the difficulties, problems and the corrective measures that are necessary to address corruption’s stranglehold on Ukraine.
While working in Ukraine he developed friendships and a genuine interest in helping the people of Ukraine. After a distinguished fifteen years as a FBI Special Agent, Brian Fitzpatrick embarked on another career of public service as a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania. He has been assigned to the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security and Small Business Committees and has taken a leadership role as Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus. Most recently, Congressman Fitzpatrick has been appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
In his third year in Congress, Rep. Fitzpatrick distinguished himself by working on such important issues as cybersecurity, combating the opioid crisis and has been steadfastly working on behalf of a secure, sovereign and independent Ukraine.
At the commencement of the Award Reception, a group of the Voloshky, Ukrainian Dance Ensemble welcomed Congressman Fitzpatrick with the traditional Ukrainian custom of bread and salt. In her opening remarks Dr. Zenia Chernyk, President and Chair of the Board of the Ukrainian Federation welcomed the Guest of Honor, the program participants and the audience.
The Most Rev. Bishop Andriy Rabiy, Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia offered a prayer for health and guidance and Ms. Yulia Stupen presented the audience with a beautiful rendition of God Bless America and Hospody, Pomyluy Nas (words and music of Taras Petrynenko).
Congressman Jim Gerlach, co-host of the program had served as Co-Chair of the Caucus during his entire 12 years in Congress. Under his leadership important resolutions, statements and two very important laws were passed. It was Congressman Gerlach’s House resolution that was signed into law by President George W. Bush rescinding the Jackson- Vanik trade restrictions on Ukraine. On December 11, 2014, late in the evening, Congressman Gerlach’s H.R 5859 was passed and sent to the Senate for approval. It passed by unanimous consent and was sent to President Obama for signing. The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 reaffirmed America’s commitment to Ukraine in economic, military and strategic national security interests.
Joining the Federation in paying tribute to Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick were Consul General Oleksii Holubov and Consul Denis Semynovych of the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York, Robert McConnell, Coordinator of External Relations of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network, Michael Sawkiw, Jr., Executive Vice-President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee America (UCCA) and Director of Ukrainian National Information Service, Eugene Luciw, Esq. President of the UCCA, Philadelphia Chapter and Roman Petyk, Esq. President of the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union, a major sponsor of the event.
Representatives of the Ukrainian American community of Greater Philadelphia, the American Jewish Committee and other institutions and colleagues also joined in the festivities.
Calling upon the Guest of Honor to come forward to accept the Alexander B. Chernyk Medal from Dr. Zenia Chernyk and the UFA Board of Directors, Congressman Dougherty noted that Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick” is the only man I know who personally walked the streets of Kyiv before he walked the hallowed halls of the United States Congress.”
Upon accepting the medal, Congressman Fitzpatrick acknowledged the importance of community interaction with elected representatives and encouraged the Ukrainian American community to continue to seek bipartisan support for Ukraine. At the conclusion of his warm and sincere remarks, Congressman Fitzpatrick shared with the audience the news that he and his Pennsylvania colleague and fellow member of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus — Congressman Brendan F. Boyle — will be travelling to Ukraine as part of a CODEL (Congressional Delegation) in November.
Photo at top of page: Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus with the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Federation of America holding the Alexander B. Chernyk Medal awarded him for his Vision, Courage and Leadership on behalf of Ukraine.