WILMINGTON — When Randy Riley was Wilmington mayor in October 2013, he signed Twinning Agreements with three small Ukrainian cities to establish “sister city” relationships with his small southwest Ohio town.
Since then, Wilmington is a Sister City to Solonytsivka, Chuguiv and Merepha.
In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Riley was asked to give a presentation at this week’s Wilmington City Council meeting on his interaction with Ukrainians, both here and in their home country.
Toward the close of his remarks, Riley decided to rework a famous John F. Kennedy quote about being a citizen of Berlin and apply it.
“I’ll take what Kennedy said, and I’ll say it now. I am Ukrainian. If that makes any difference to anybody, yea, I’ll be Ukrainian. Absolutely,” said Riley.
During Riley’s talk City Councilmember Jonathan McKay, after getting the green light from the mayor, said he planned to acquire a blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag to fly under the U.S. flag on a city flag pole.
And Mayor John Stanforth asked City Service Director Brian Shidaker to talk “to the sign guys” about putting Wilmington’s sister city relationships upon the town’s entrance signs. Councilmember Michael Allbright brought up the idea.
Also at the council session, Stanforth read an Office of the Mayor Proclamation concerning Ukraine. It reads:
“Whereas: The City of Wilmington stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, in the face of this unjustified attack on their country, their sovereignty, and their lives; and
“Whereas, more than 500,000 Ukrainians have fled their country with an estimated 4 million more seeking aid and protection; and
“Whereas, aggressive sanctions by the United States and its allies must continue to hold Russia and President Vladimir Putin accountable for the assault on Ukraine and to stop these senseless acts of war; and
“Whereas, showing unwavering resolve and bravery for his country and people, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, refused evacuation efforts and joined in the defense of his country, stating, “The fight is here. I don’t need a ride. I need ammunition”; and
“Now, therefore, I, John M. Stanforth, Mayor of the City of Wilmington, do hereby proclaim solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and I urge all citizens to join in the condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s acts of war and Russia’s invasion of a free and democratic Ukraine.”