While there had been talk of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appearing on last week’s Academy Awards broadcast – an appearance that would have been lost in the shuffle, given the antics of an emasculated Will Smith allegedly defending the honor of his wife — it did not come to fruition. On Sunday night, during the airing of the Grammy Awards, Zelenskyy was given time to address the world.
“One thing that has always made music so powerful is the way it responds to the times,” host Trevor Noah said, in setting up the moment. “Even in the darkest times, music has the power to lift spirits and give you hope for a brighter tomorrow. And there is nobody who could use a little hope right now more than the people of Ukraine. Here to introduce a very special performance led by John Legend is the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.”
The Ukrainian president appeared on screen, wearing the military green t-shirt that has become his trademark during the war with Russia.
“The war. What’s more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people,” Zelenskyy began, his voice seeming hoarse. “Our children drew swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we will never see them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning in bomb shelters. But alive.”
“Our loved ones don’t know if we’ll be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence,” he continued. “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway.”
Zelenskyy would then ask viewers to support Ukraine in its battle for freedom.
“We defend our freedom. To live. To love. To sound,” he said. “On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music! Fill it today. To tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence.”
“And then peace will come. To all our cities the war is destroying. Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol, and others,” the president concluded. “They are legends already. But I have a dream of them living. And free. Free like you on the Grammy stage.”
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