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Day of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred: the history behind the memorable date and the origin of the name

Yulia PoteriankoNews
The Heavenly Hundred is the name given to those killed during the Revolution of Dignity

Every year on February 20, Ukraine celebrates the Day of Remembrance of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes. The holiday was established as a sign of respect for those who gave their lives for the freedom of Ukraine during the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014.

OBOZ.UA tells the story of the holiday, as well as the origin of the term Heavenly Hundred and the significance of the date for the history of our nation in general.

The Revolution of Dignity

Since November 2013, protests against President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign Ukraine's association with the European Union have been taking place in Kyiv. Initially, these events were called Euromaidan, but after the confrontation turned from peaceful to violent, they were called the Revolution of Dignity. It lasted 94 days, from November 21, 2013, to February 22, 2014. The most bloody events unfolded at the end.

At the time, security forces began shooting at protesters on the orders of the authorities. The largest number of victims occurred on February 20, 2014. According to the Institute of National Remembrance, 48 people died in the clashes in the center of Kyiv. In total, more than 100 people lost their lives that winter. 105 of them were posthumously awarded the title of Heroes of Ukraine. Three more - Mikhail Zhiznevsky, a citizen of Belarus, and Zurab Khurtsia and David Kipiani, citizens of Georgia - were awarded the Order of the Heavenly Hundred.

A holiday was introduced in 2015 to commemorate all those who died. It was established by President Petro Poroshenko's decree of February 11, 2015, "On honoring the feat of the participants of the Revolution of Dignity and perpetuating the memory of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred."

Where did the name Heavenly Hundred come from?

The term Heavenly Hundred refers to the 107 people who died during the Revolution of Dignity, as well as the Maidan activists who died in the spring of 2014 when Russia launched its armed aggression in eastern Ukraine.

On Maidan, hundreds were the main structural units of the self-defense forces. The notion of the Heavenly Hundred emerged as a metaphor for the defenders who continue to keep their watch in the afterlife.

The term Heavenly Hundred was first used during the ceremony of farewell to the victims of the Maidan on February 21-22, 2014. It immediately went viral and was first used at the official level on the Government portal on February 28, 2014.

On July 1, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine established the state award "Order of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes". It is awarded for civic courage, patriotism, upholding the constitutional principles of democracy, human rights and freedoms, active charitable, humanitarian and social activities in Ukraine, and selfless service to the Ukrainian people. The award is given to people who have distinguished themselves in the defense of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Order has the shape of a blue cross, in the center of which is an image of a heavenly warrior in armor with a sword and shield. The armor and shield are stylized as homemade equipment of the participants of the Revolution of Dignity. On the back of the cross is the inscription "Freedom and Dignity". The design of the award was created by Taras Vozniak and Kostiantyn Kovalyshyn.

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