Bill Clinton, the 42nd U.S. president, speaking about Taras Shevchenko

Bill Clinton, the 42nd U.S. president, speaking about Taras Shevchenko

 November 22, 1994

William J. Clinton, Presidents of the United States 1993-2001


From speech of President William Jefferson Clinton made in the State Dining Room at the White House on November 22, 1994 during the State Dinner for President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine:

More than a century ago in the winter of 1858, the great Ukrainian national poet, Taras Shevchenko, had just returned to St. Petersburg from internal exile in the Russian Far East. There he met the acclaimed American black actor, Ira Aldridge, who was in the city performing Shakespeare. The son of Ukrainian serfs and the son of American slaves became fast friends. Theirs was a friendship born of shared ideals -- above all the dream of freedom for all peoples. It was that dream that led Shevchenko to condemn despotism with the line, "Freedom knows no dying." Ira Aldridge was so impressed by his friend Shevchenko that it was said of him that forever after he carried Ukraine in his heart.
The steadfast devotion to freedom that brought Shevchenko and Aldridge together has also brought us together tonight. So I ask all of you to join me in a toast to President and Mrs. Kuchma, to the growing friendship of our peoples and the bright future of a prosperous and free Ukraine.
Note: The President spoke at 8:28 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Source of the photo (President William Jefferson Clinton, 1994):

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton, 1994


 Look more:

The statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
Leaders of the USA made a unique contribution to honoring Shevchenko. Harry Truman was an honorary head of the Shevchenko Monument Committee. Dwight Eisenhower finally cleared the way for the monument to be installed in Washington and John F. Kennedy sent his greetings to American Ukrainians as they dedicated the site in September 1963 and facilitated implementation. In his letter, he called Shevchenko’s poetry a “noble part” of American historical heritage. Lyndon B. Johnson said:  "He was more than a Ukrainian — he was a statesman and citizen of the world. He was more than a poet — he was a valiant crusader for the rights and freedom of men. He used verse to carry on a determined fight for freedom.”

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