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Beautiful embassy, wonderful food, great people

Since the remains of the world’s most successful female fighter pilot, Moscovite Lilia Litvyak, were lost  in the Eastern Ukraine for over 40 years, it was only fitting that I should come to speak at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C.

For those of you that have read my book, Call Sign, White Lily, you know the Ukrainian people, lead by Valentina Vaschenko, spent every summer for 36 years in the woods around Krasny Luch searching for Lilia, at the request of members of her elite 73rd  regiment.


Before guests arrived, I was greeted warmly by Ambassador Olexander Motsyk who thanked me for my efforts to make American’s aware of Lilia’s story and for noting the large part the Ukrainian people, most notably Valentina Vaschenko and Yelena Sivolap, have played in keeping her memory alive.

(Ambassador Motsyk and myself with George Washington looking on in the background)


It seemed like the questions started flying as soon as I began. Most in the audience were genuinely unaware her remains sat in a modest gravesite deep in the Ukrainian woods. They also were surprised to learn there was a school and a museum in her name in the tiny city of Krasny Luch. Most of all they were surprised that an American with no RuSsian or Ukrainian ancestry would form a bond with two Ukrainian women and travel almost 8,000 miles to create a approachable, historical narrative about a Great Patriotic War hero—a woman decades ahead of her time—who had been lost in history for some, and never existed for the rest of the world.

(Here I am discussing the how, when and why of the project with the audience.)

The embassy was also kind enough to highlight excerpts from my talk on their site. Here is the link:


When we finished upstairs, we had a great reception filled with Ukrainian specialties in the restored 200 year old dining room. I thought you might enjoy seeing the display before the roomful of guests devoured the goodies.


(Dramatic lighting enhanced the ambiance)

(Irina made sure all went off without a hitch.)

After, After….

A few last photos for the memory book, and then it was off to the Voice of America TV studios near the Capital the next morning (more about that in another blog).