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Ukraine President Zelenskyy's 2019 inaugural speech is a great display of humanity in leadership

He urged fellow politicians to discard the tradition of hanging portraits of leaders on their walls and instead put up pictures of their families and kids.

Ukraine President Zelenskyy's 2019 inaugural speech is a great display of humanity in leadership
Image source: Twitter/BenjaminRamm

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is standing tall with his head held high in the face of attacks from Russia. Zelenskyy has led from the front throughout the crisis, from engaging with world leaders to standing up to Vladimir Putin and Russia. He has become the face of hope for Ukraine, and a symbol of resistance for the world. After the first day of the invasion, there were rumors that Zelenskyy had escaped the country, abandoning his people. Zelenskyy filmed a video of himself at the center of Kyiv and assured the people that he remains in place, ready to  fight for the country's independence and sovereignty even if it came at the cost of his life. Zelenskyy is everything Ukraine could have hoped for in a leader at a time of crisis, but what people outside of the country don't know is that he has always displayed great leadership skills.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky puts his hand over his heart during an Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on September 1, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

One shining example of that came when he delivered his inaugural speech after becoming President. Zelenskyy is a comedian turned politician, but if anyone had any doubts about his credibility, they were put to rest. When Zelenskyy addressed his people for the first time as President, he didn't portray himself as a strongman but rather a man encouraging fellow politicians to be empathetic to the people and take every decision with their children's future at stake and it struck a chord. "I don't want you to hang my portraits on your office walls. Because a president is not an icon and not an idol. A president is not a portrait. Hang pictures of your children. And before you make any decision, look into their eyes," he said. "You know, I could talk a lot more but I know that Ukrainians want actions, not words," he said.


"Every one of us bears responsibility for Ukraine which we will leave to our children. Each of us, in our places, can do something for the development of Ukraine. This is our shared dream, but we have shared pains. Those who lost their own homes and those who in turn, opened the doors of their homes, sharing this pain. Those who didn’t manage to find their place at home but found earnings in a foreign country. Those who, fighting poverty, had to lose their dignity. But we will overcome all of this, for each of us is a Ukrainian. We have to be united, and only then are we strong,” he said, before concluding his speech. "I felt with my heart that it wasn't just my job, it was my mission. In the next five years, I will do everything so that you, Ukrainians, don't cry. Thank you." The speech has now gone viral along with an image of Zelenskyy, face covered in paint, sitting with his partner and two kids. 



Zelenskyy has now become a beacon of hope for Ukrainians as he tries to balance seeking entry into the European Union and NATO while simultaneously holding talks with Russia. Ukrainian military and arsenal might be no match for Russia but their will and determination will certainly not be broken. Zelenskyy spoke with great courage and resolve via video conference to the European Parliament this week, reported Yahoo News. “This morning, two cruise missiles hit Freedom Square. … Dozens were killed. This is the price of freedom,” said Zelensky. “We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom. Nobody is going to break us. We are strong, we are Ukrainians. We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one. Yesterday, 16 children were killed,” said. The moving speech saw even the translator choke up in tears as they delivered Zelenskyy's message. Zelensky received a standing ovation from the diplomats at the European Parliament. 


Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a developing story, and we’ll update as we learn more. Information is swiftly changing and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication.

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