Spellings In Kiev...Reveals She's Ukrainian

It's not exactly as big as former governor George Allen revealing/finding out his Jewish descent, but today we find out that our well-travelled education secretary is not only in Kiev, Ukraine, leading a delegation to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the tragedy at Babyn Yar and delivering remarks about "the important role of education in fighting ignorance and prejudice. " She's also Ukranian by descent.

Who knew? Not I. Who cares? Not sure anyone. Read below for the stirring remarks she delivered at the Kiev Opera House.


Her remarks:

Thank you. President Yushchenko, President Katsav, President Vujanovic, President Mesic, and distinguished guests: On behalf of President Bush and the American people and as a person of Ukrainian descent, it’s an honor to be here. President Bush sends his regards and has asked me to share his thoughts and prayers with you.

I want to thank Ambassador William Taylor and the other members of our delegation. Vince Obsitnik is a former member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. Gregg Rickman is the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for combating anti-Semitism. And Fred Zeidman is chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

As the United States Secretary of Education, I want to thank all of you here today for your commitment to commemorating and learning from the past. Earlier today, we visited the ravine at Babyn Yar, which became the final resting place for 100,000 innocent men, women, and children. Many were killed for their religious and political beliefs; others for where they were born or for the way they looked. They were all victims of hatred and intolerance.

Even today, 65 years later, it’s difficult to come to terms with the scale of the atrocity and the systematic cruelty with which it was carried out. In the first few days of the massacre, 33,000 Jews were marched to the edge of the ravine and gunned down.

The perpetrators tried to hide their crimes from the world, but your presence today shows they failed. The dead were buried and burned, but their lives will not be forgotten. Anatoly Kuznetsov was one of the lucky ones. He survived to write a famous book about Babyn Yar. As he put it, “History will not be cheated, and nothing can be hidden forever.”

Today, we’re committed to honoring his words by remembering the past and passing on the lessons of this terrible tragedy to the next generation. In the 20th century, we saw what happens when ignorance and prejudice go unchallenged, and we must teach our children to confront these forces in their own lives. A more hopeful, peaceful future depends on advancing the values of respect, compassion, and freedom and that begins with education.

We have a responsibility to help our children understand what happened here and at similar sites across Europe. Through education, we can help protect future generations from a similar fate. In the United States, we opened the national Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. It’s a memorial to those who died as well as a center of learning. More than 24 million people have visited the museum since it opened, and the history and lessons taught there still resonate today.

In his book, Mr. Kuznetsov wrote, “Looking at our yesterday, we think of tomorrow.” For all of us here today, it’s a reminder that we must do our part to make sure history does not repeat itself.

On behalf of President Bush and the American delegation, I want to thank President Yushchenko and the Ukrainian people for inviting us here to join in remembering the past and dedicating ourselves to a brighter future.

Thank you.


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