by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, September 2014) Retired after 31 years of teaching history in Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Bill Arthrell, finds himself once again giving lectures in front of groups of people. Arthrell, who taught high school history at both Rhodes and John Marshall high schools, has become an advocate for the Ukraine, which he describes as “a country fighting for its entire survival.”
Arthrell hopes the multi-media presentation he is willing to deliver to various groups or classes of students will inspire Americans to “ask our government to do more to help the Ukraine.”
Arthrell’s presentation, titled Ukraine 2014:Revolution, War and Putin compares what is happening today in the Ukraine to some of the momentous moments in human history such as the American and French revolutions and the struggle of African Americans in the Untied States for civil rights.
At a presentation at Mac’s Backs Coventry Bookstore on August 20th, Arthrell noted some of the history of the development of Slavic culture in the Ukraine and how the Ukrainian people have been conquered and dominated by various powers over the centuries.
Arthrell talks of the vote of the Ukrainians for independence from the USSR in 1991 and the series of pro Russian oligarchs that dominated the country until the recent revolution.
Sharing some of his own life history, Arthrell says he, sometimes feels like Forrest Gump – finding himself participating in historical events. He notes he was a student at Kent State on May 4, 1970 during the anti-war demonstration, he protested outside the White House when President Richard Nixon resigned, and participated in protests at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.
In October of 2013 Arthrell says he was visiting Ukraine and having a bowl of Borscht soup at the Maidon or Square in Kiev when he observed and joined a huge demonstration. The demonstrators were protesting Ukrainian President Victor Yanokovych’s decision to switch sides after promising to align with the European Union, and instead aligning with Russia and Vladimir Putin.
Back in the United States after his trip to the Ukraine, Arthrell watched news accounts of the Ukraine as he demonstration he participated in turned into a revolution that ousted Yanokovych from power. On a visit to the Ukrainian Village in Parma, Ohio, Arthrell says he joined the Maidan Committee and was recruited to be an international election observer during the Ukrainian Presidential Election in May of 2014.
Upon his return trip to the Ukraine as an election monitor, Arthrell says he got a chance to observe first hand the estate of the former president Yankovych and the evidence of the lavish lifestyle he lived while many in the Ukraine lived in poverty.
Arthrell, also a poet, shared some of his poetry during his trips and developed a relationship with the people of the Ukraine. He plans to once again return to the Ukraine in October of this year as an international election monitor for the Ukrainian parliamentary elections.
Editor’s Note: Bill Arthrell, when not out of the country monitoring international elections, is available to talk to groups about the crisis in the Ukraine. He can be reached by phone at 216-618-3500.