Echoes of Valor: Premiere Unveils the Untold Stories of Ukraine’s Resilience

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Celia Cooksey

On the eve of the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, select guests joined governors, congressmen and a congresswoman, state legislators, and dignitaries from around the world at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts to take the time to reflect on the ongoing war in Ukraine. The documentary screening was the premiere of Fight for Ukraine: For the Children, a project propelled by Karen Floyd, the founder, publisher, and CEO of ELYSIAN, and the visionary of this film.

The footage of Karen and her team on the ground in Ukraine is powerful. These are real men and women, fighting and looking death and destruction in the face daily. The bombed-out buildings, children’s toys strewn across the wreckage, are all painful reminders of what used to be – what has been shattered for sinister ends.

It is hard to not feel hopeless in a way, watching the loss of life and utter devastation of home and country, but there is power in the stories. There is power in witnessing the reality and honoring their memories on film.

Throughout the film, as an interviewer, Karen permeates her calm and warm energy into every conversation. And every Ukrainian subject of the documentary has an incredible spirit that leaps off the screen. That energy could be felt in the lobby of the Terrace Theater, in the conversations between local DC invited guests, Ukrainian nationals and friends of those featured in the film who traveled across the world to be in attendance before the theater doors even opened.

As guests were ushered to their seats, there was a somber realization that this wasn’t a fun show or movie that was about to unfold. And as the lights darkened and the first scene began, it was at times hard to watch. Children suffering, death, and stories of incredible hardship are just too important to look away.

The gathering continued, honoring those featured in the film, like “the protector” – an alias used by an American fighting on the front lines, volunteering in a country not his own to support a cause he believes in. We came together to showcase ELYSIAN’s newest magazine, and unveil the cover featuring Lt. Col. Sheri Biggs, an impressive and powerful woman with a lifetime of service to her country and community.  We celebrated Dr. Christina Rahm’s new book, Roots of Military Service: Understanding the Intersection of Conflict, Mental Health and Wellness, in which Christina applies her background in bioscience and technology to the study of war and other military disciplines.

The reception was bubbling with conversation, talking through how each person had been invited or were connected to the documentary or the war. There was a powerful feeling of empathy and kindness in the room, that the group was filled with people who care. Celebratory in a way, because bringing people together is always something that will create joy, but there was a seriousness that could be felt too, rooted in the evening. There is of course more to be done to support Ukraine, more stories to tell, and sadly more atrocities to bear witness to.

Notable, too, were the open seats, the regrets, the unanswered invites… some heartfelt, from elected officials like county commissioners, state legislators, congressmen and governors alike, all currently committed to critical work in their states, pressing legislative sessions and meetings abroad. Some, like Congressman Joe Wilson, could not attend because he is out actively working to support Ukraine as the chairman of the bipartisan Helsinki Commission. For those who didn’t respond, our hope is that they will watch the film and take their own time to reflect on this war.

The fight for Ukraine is not over. This film is one piece in the puzzle of reminding us all that this war is ongoing. Fight for Ukraine: For the Children is not a work of fiction. It is bearing witness to the lives of innocent children that are being destroyed and calls on us all to take the time to care.

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