True Ukrainian spirit
By Lisa Nicklanovich, photos courtesy of Ada Vernon
Adriana (Ada) Vernon grew up in a very traditional Ukrainian household, even though it was in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. “Ukrainian was my first language. We had traditional Ukrainian food and so many different events at our church. I had to learn poetry from our famous Ukrainian poets and traditional folk dances. Even though the community wasn’t big here in Colorado, it was strong when I was growing up,” said Vernon.
Vernon’s parents met at a displaced-persons camp in Regensburg, Germany. “My parents and their families fled communism and the invasion of the Bolsheviks and the Nazis in World War II. Though bombs were falling, most of the extended family survived and were able to make it to the camp set up by the Allies,” Vernon explained. Her parents came to the United States in 1949, just two weeks after her older sister was born.
After two years in New York, Vernon’s parents made their way to Detroit, following a big Ukrainian community. Vernon said, “My dad came to Colorado in 1960 on a ski trip and called my mom and said, ‘We are moving to Colorado.’ He had been going to school in Vienna when the war broke out and said Colorado reminded him of Austria.”
The Village at Castle Pines resident Ada Vernon has a personal connection – having been raised in Colorado by her Ukrainian emigrant parents
Vernon met her husband, Mike, while both were attending CU Boulder, and they moved to The Village at Castle Pines in 2004. Ada, Mike, and one of their two sons traveled to Eastern Europe in 2018 visiting Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. Vernon said when she realized how close they would be to her family’s homeland, she and Mike decided they had to travel a bit farther east to Lviv, Ukraine.
Vernon connected with a cousin on her mother’s side, Stanislaw Buczkacki, through the website myheritage.com. The Vernons spent two days with Stanislaw and his girlfriend Anna touring Lviv, where Ada’s father grew up. She said they ate amazing Ukrainian food and drank Vishnyak, the cherry-infused alcohol that is very well known to Ukrainians.
Vernon stated, “It was really eye opening being there. They all seemed happy, very joyful, but also very strong nationalists and extremely patriotic.”
Vernon’s experience there confirmed her belief that the Ukrainian spirit and desire for independence cannot be diminished. She said her heart is broken about what is happening today in Ukraine. She is keeping in touch with her cousin Stanislaw and his girlfriend who fled Lviv and are currently safe in Western Ukraine. Vernon added, “Stanislaw is hopeful.”