Aleksander Duchnovic Statue Dedication Cleveland Rusyn Garden June 24, 2012
On June 25, 1939, the Rusin Garden plot was dedicated and became the thirteenth garden in the park. In 1952, a bust of Father Alexander Duchnovich was placed in the garden. Father Duchnovich was a priest, patriot, poet, educator and author of the Rusin National anthem, who lived from 1803 to 1865, in present day Slovakia.
He is honored as the chief force in elevating the cultural standards of the Rusin people. When offered his freedom from prison if he renounced his Rusin heritage, he said, "I was, am and always will be a Rusin." This saying is inscribed on the bust's pedestal.
Bust of Aleksander Duchnovic
During the 1970's, the bust of Father Duchnovich disappeared from the garden. For the past ten years, Carpatho-Rusyn Society member, John Krenisky, has worked hard to raise funds to replace the bust. Finally, after years of diligence, a new bust was installed on November 21, 2011.
The new bust was dedicated in a ceremony at the Rusin Garden on Sunday June 24, 2012.
Laurel Tombazzi, Rusyn Ambassador to ClevelandPeople.Com and Director of the Karpato-Rus' Ensemble served as Mistress of Ceremonies at the event.
She welcomed the crowd and then her children Anna and Joseph Tombazzi presented the traditional bread and salt.
Anna and Joseph Tombazzi
Bonnie Burke, President of the Cleveland Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, told of the history of the Rusin Cultural Garden in Cleveland and about the bust of Aleksander Duchnovic.
Ms. Burke then introduced John Corpus who read Aleksander Duchnovic's famous poem 'Ja Rusyn Byl'; 'I am Rusyn'
The bust of Aleksander Duchnovic was then officially unveiled with John Krenisky and Paul Burik doing the honors.
His Grace, the Most Reverend John M. Kudrick, Bishop of Parma, blessed the bust of Fr. Aleksander Duchnovic and then gave his remarks.
Most Reverend John M. Kudrick
Several dignitaries were present and they offered their remarks beginning with Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson.
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson
Marty Gelfand, representative of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, gave a proclamation from the Congressman.
Laurel Tombazzi and Marty Gelfand
Ward 8 Councilman Jeff Johnson told how as a child he would pass the Rusin Garden and assumed it was a misspelling of Russian.
Ward 8 Councilman Jeff Johnson
Paul Burik, immediate past-president of the Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation, is the son of a Rusyn immigrant and a strong supporter of the Rusyn Garden. Paul spoke at the dedication next.
5 year old Isaiah Nagrant of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society recited part of Fr. Aleksander Duchnovic's poem 'On the Joys of School'
Next, Rev James Batcha, Pastor of Holy Spirit Byzantine Church in Parma Ohio, spoke.
Rev James Batcha
Rev Batcha, then led the crowd in singing the Star Spangled Banner.
Next, Shirley LaFleur, Greek Catholic Union (GCU) representative from Lodge 302, spoke, with the assistance of John Righetti. She said, ""The Italian community has Angelo Petitti and the Rusyn's have John Krenisky."
Shirley LaFleur and John Righetti
Then Father John Kudrick led the crowd in singing 'Na Mnohaja L'ita' (God grant you many years) to John Krenisky.
John Righetti, National President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society spoke about Rusyn culture and heritage.
Marcia Benko, Vice-President of the Cleveland Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, recognized the donors and volunteers who made the bust of Fr. Aleksander Duchnovic in the Cleveland Rusyn Cultural Garden possible.
Laurel Tombazzi introduced her mother Florence Orris who was at the original dedication of the Rusyn Garden in Cleveland in 1939.
The official dedication ceremony ended with The Living Traditions Folk Ensemble leading the crowd in the singing of God Bless America.
After the official ceremony, impromptu songs and dances sprang up and photos were taken with the Duchnovic bust.