"The standard we walk past is the standard we accept," Vlad Skots said. "This whole war is because Ukraine wants to be independent."
Skots moved to Sacramento, California, more than two decades ago. He didn't speak English at the time. He didn't have any family in the United States. He was alone, pursuing the American dream. It's the same dream many followed when they immigrated to the United States.
Now, he's watching his home country go to war, wondering if relatives who still live there will be alive by morning.
"People are thinking of how not to die tomorrow. They’re trying to calculate an exit, where the closest bomb shelter is to them if something would happen," Skots said.
Cities like Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia have some of the largest Ukrainian-American pockets in the country. Many people in these cities have organized rallies to show their support and to protest the war.
In Sacramento, hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the state capital to pray for peace on Thursday. Some of them, like Dasha and Olga, cried as they watched and chanted.
"We don’t want the war because people will be killed, children will be killed. It’s very terrible," said Dasha, who lived in Belarus just months ago.
Olga was on the verge of tears when she spoke about her daughter asking what is happening in Ukraine.
"My daughter, she asked me why this war. Why, people, should they die? I don’t know what answer," she said.
Other community members who attended the rally said supporting the Ukrainian community is important during this time.