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The Kennedy Center and other sites light up their buildings to support Ukraine

The Kennedy Center joins other U.S. sites illuminating their buildings in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Margaret Wroblewski
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The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center joins other U.S. sites illuminating their buildings in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

From the Eiffel Tower to San Francisco City Hall, sites around the world have been illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., joined the worldwide displays of solidarity this week, lighting its white marble façade in sky blue and golden yellow.

In a statement to NPR, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter says the Center is using it's platform "to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Ukraine." Physical symbols of support as well as the art on stage will, "remind people of the vital role the culture of all nations play in creating our global artistic fabric," she says. This weekend at The Kennedy Center, The National Symphony Orchestra will perform the Ukrainian national anthem at its concerts and the Washington National Opera will play and sing the anthem at the premiere of Written In Stone.

Creating these immense light installations isn't a matter of changing some lightbulbs. The Kennedy Center Production Department used 48 sheets of lighting gels and a 67-foot lift to place the gels over 144 lights.

The colors of the Ukrainian flag are displayed on the 65th Street sidewalk outside Lincoln Center in New York City.
Claudio Papapietro / Lincoln Center
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Lincoln Center
The colors of the Ukrainian flag are displayed on the 65th Street sidewalk outside Lincoln Center in New York City.

In New York, Lincoln Center turned a row of digital display screens into bold, bicolored expressions of support. The screens are typically used for advertising or public service announcements.

One of Lincoln Center's resident organizations, The Met Opera, is dedicating the rest of its season the people of Ukraine. "We shed tears for them," says General Manager Peter Gelb in a statement, "including their brothers and sisters in Russia, who are also victims of the lies and propaganda of Putin, who seems intent on the destruction of Ukraine, its people, and all personal freedom in Ukraine and in Russia."

The Ukrainian flag colors at Niagara Falls State Park.
Robert Bennett / Rob Shots
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Rob Shots
The Ukrainian flag colors at Niagara Falls State Park.

The needs of Ukraine are immense right now. Lighting up world landmarks won't improve the country's plight but, as images flood social media, it has been something of a morale booster. "Niagara Falls lit up in blue and yellow our people are everywhere! Thank you!" says a post on the Facebook page of the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey.

In Memphis, the Big River Crossing and Hernando de Soto bridges are often bathed in LED lights for various reasons.

LED lights honoring the people of Ukraine on the Hernando de Soto bridge in Memphis.
Craig Nicholson / Mighty Lights
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Mighty Lights
LED lights honoring the people of Ukraine on the Hernando de Soto bridge in Memphis.

The company Mighty Lights orchestrates a 10-minute light show every half-hour after sundown. Its board of directors decided to light the bridges in the Ukrainian flag colors for two consecutive nights in between shows.

"To continue showing solidarity, the Mighty Lights now integrates the Ukrainian flag into every half-hour light show with a full minute of a blue and yellow display at the top of each half hour," says a spokesperson. In a statement to NPR, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland writes, "Under Putin, Russia has reclaimed the status of Evil Empire. We stand with the people of Ukraine and pray for peace."

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