In memory of my grandfather Petro Halich
THE EPIC OF PETRO HALICH
By Peter Wasyl Kuzyk
‘Tis with humble respect that I
Accept this challenge, if to try
To bring Petro Halich to view…
That he be paid the tribute due.
But, let me take a moment here
With a prelude, to make it clear
That what the words here shall transact,
Will be based both on truth and fact.
Yes, truth and fact, the grim details
Of life, where tyranny avails
It’s thievery, it’s death and cries…
Which then are all denied with lies!
Here is the Halich epic told
To you, the reader, to behold
The cruelties of man to man…
As given by the Halich clan.
THE EPIC OF PETRO HALICH
By Peter Wasyl Kuzyk
Based on the information, verbal and written, and given to the author by the son, Ivan Halich, and daughter, Serafina Svitlana Halich Marzotto.
In Chernihiv, within Ukraine,
Born of a noble Cossack strain
To live a long, rich, varied life,
And share in Ukraine’s hist’ry’s strife.
The Freedom Movement, of Ukraine…
Here Petro Halich does attain
A fighter’s rank, a “kulak”, who
Would strive that justice would endue.
The kulaks were the farmers, where
Independence had gained an air,
Who now fought the forced Soviet rule…
A need considered dutiful.
This need the kulaks so pronounced,
Was equally by “law” denounced.
Arrests, Siberian exile…
Which Halich does escape this while.
It is in hiding Halich lives.
A life with monstrous negatives…
As nightmares ravage through his mind,
Ebbing whatever they could find.
A brother dies, his parents die,
The land’s confiscation, the why?
His property, possessions gone…
And this for nothing he had done.
His fam’ly thrown out of their home,
Into the winter’s cold to roam
But days before the Christmas Eve…
Yet, Halich could but hide and grieve.
The deadly famine rages on,
Forced by the Soviets as none!
The holocaust of holocausts…
That shames the talked of Hitler’s lust.
Halich now see his home destroyed.
Where will his fam’ly be deployed?
Three children, mother-in-law, wife…
Would they freeze in the winter’s strife?
For, anyone who took them in,
Would be classed as an alien
Of the communistic reign…
An endless communist refrain.
But, an old woman, less a spouse,
Does take the five into her house;
A one room home and very old…
The woman has a heart of gold.
This man made famine took a toll
Which hist’ry yet is to enscroll…
Seven to ten millions in death,
In it’s horror filled aftermath!
The World War Two, with it’s arres
Permits departures to the West
For Petro and his family,
Except for his son, Gregory.
For Gregory’s service would be
In the U.S.S.R. army.
Then, there his residence apply…
And in the year 2000, die.
Petro Halich and family
Survive the German Camps decree.
Hardships which words cannot expound…
It’s here the Allies have them found.
The Allies liberation front
Does somewhat to their ills confront,
As they are, with the Allies stamp,
Put in a displaced persons camp.
Camps, where repatriations loom.
Where freedom’s hopes again sense doom.
The Soviet Union would revile…
Death, or Siberian exile!
Halich takes a courageous stand.
To have the Allies understand
What repatriation would do…
A certain death, no matter who!
His plea precedes the Allies view.
Soon, in the Mannheim camp they knew
Of the heroic Halich stance…
To give their lives that second chance.
And oft’ survivors of this camp
Would with a gratefulness revamp:
“If ‘twas not for the Halich strive,
we would no longer be alive.”
Eventually, as time does pass,
This clan migrates to the U.S.
In 49, daughter Mary
And husband Myroslav, now free!
1950, son Ivan comes.
Where his great wish he overcomes.
He serves in the U.S. Air Force…
A service that he did endorse.
And it is this son, Ivan, now
With sponsorships that do allow
The rest to come with great ado,
To Detroit, 1952.
Thus comes to end the saga here,
Of the “Great Famine”, war and fear…
Petro Halich, his family,
And now in the “land of the free”!
Thru’out his life Halich instilled
The need to learn, be ever filled.
The importance, necessity
Of education that should be.
From experience Petro well knew
Material wealth a foe withdrew,
But knowledge never, for this
Would stay with one forevermore.
Halich is heartened, if to know
His fam’ly’s aspirations grow.
Two engineers are in their midst,
Two health professionals exist.
Nor is his int’rest in disdain
When it is for a free Ukraine…
A land beloved, in gloried throes,
A land free from her many foes.
1960, a heart attack,
that sees Petro taken aback…
an early retirement to be
from the Ford Motor Company.
But, the one vision carries on…
An education for each one.
The fam’ly works and all are willed
To see the father’s dream fulfilled.
Mary a nurse, a humanist.
Daughter Svitlana, pharmacist.
Ivan and Victor, their careers,
Both electrical engineers!
And Ivan’s daughter, Natalie,
Is in Ukraine, a devotee
To all that there is to forerun…
The year is 1991.
There is Dutkewych, Jaroslav,
Of whom space here does not allow
This, Mary’s son, the earned acclaim
He gained for his intensive aims.
Director of U.S. Peace Corps
Within Ukraine, but served much more.
A Ukrainian of the year,
A man of will and as sincere.
There is Svitlana’s family,
Anna and Marc and Antony.
Who, truthfully, are of the seed
Of the determined Halich breed!
To make a diff’rence in Ukraine,
Their efforts there are not in vain.
They teach, inform, assist and strive…
Whatever the promotive drive.
All grandchildren are of the crust
That education is a must.
Thus, blessed with grandfather’s desire,
There’s much within them to admire.
But, despite Petro’s “knowledge drive”,
“Love your Ukraine” is kept alive
and in his grandchildren instilled…
a void he saw was ever filled.
All who knew Petro Halich, knew
That his desires were great and true…
The flame, the hope of a Ukraine,
In freedom and a great domain!
His books, collections all assent
This love that is a testament…
Love of Ukraine, her poetry,
Her language, arts and history!
A surgery in May, 90,
Daughter Svitlana and fam’ly
Have him residing in their home,
In Canada, no more to roam.
And it is here his nearness grows
To grandchildren with pride that shows
That in their memories shall be
Thoughts of grandfather’s reveille.
Thus on the night before he dies…
A premonition or surmise?
He gathers the young to his side…
A one more singing for his pride.
Tony, Anna, Marc, in rapport,
And with a bandura support
Sing with melodious refrain,
Songs of his beautiful Ukraine.
The life of Petro Halich ends.
A Heaven’s peace is bid by friends.
He’s buried by the family,
And rests in Windsor’s cemet’ry.
But, what of that desirous aim
Of Petro Halich, of that flame,
Of a Ukraine both proud and free
That through his life he strove to see?
That falls upon us, his request:
The living, to take up the task
Which he so left, yet incomplete,
And bear that banner to it’s feat!
His obituary, in part, reads as follows:
Halich, Petro, February 8, 1991, at the Metropolitan Hospital. Age 91 years. Beloved husband of the late Anna (1976). Dear father of Hryhory and wife Irena, Stavropol, Ukraine. Mrs. Mary Dutkewych, Allan Park, Mich. Ivan, Warren, Mich. Vitaly and wife Olha, Tuscon, Ariz. and Serafina (Svitlana) and husband Tito Marzotto, Windsor, Ont. Also survived by fifteen grandchildren and five great grandchildren.