Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush visited a Ukrainian Church in Chicago together on Friday in a show of solidarity for the country amid the Russian invasion.
The ex-presidents each laid bouquets of sunflowers – Ukraine’s national flower – at Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, located in the middle of the Windy City’s vibrant Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
“America stands united with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and against oppression,” both Clinton and Bush posted on their respective social media accounts.
The house of worship thanked the former presidents for the visit in a Facebook post.
A video shared by Clinton and Bush noted that the US has maintained diplomatic relations with Ukraine since 1991, when it became independent from the Soviet Union.
“Presidents Clinton and Bush worked to support Ukraine’s democratic institutions,” the clip says. “Both former presidents have called upon Americans to stand with Ukraine.”
An unnamed church member says in the video that the flowers “say ‘in solidarity’ or in Ukrainian ‘солідарно.’”
“They represent the struggle for freedom, which today are the colors of blue and yellow,” the man says. “Blue for sky, yellow for wheat, as Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe and now Ukraine is the citadel of fighting for freedom.”
Chicago is the sister city of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. The Illinois city has more than 50,000 residents claiming Ukrainian ancestry, according to an Axios report, the second most of any metropolis in the country after New York City.
Nearly 3.3 million people have fled Ukraine, since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, while an additional 6.5 million have left their homes for other parts of the country, according to the United Nations.
The death toll remains unclear, though thousands of civilians, and soldiers on both sides, are believed to have been killed.