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The sunflower, Ukraine’s national flower, is becoming a global symbol of solidarity

A field of sunflowers in Ukraine in 2019. (Evgeniy Maloletka/Bloomberg News)
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The sunflower has long held a meaningful place in the hearts of many Ukrainians as the national flower. But since Russia invaded their country last week, the plant has become a global symbol of resistance, unity and hope.

In recent days, people around the world have been adding bright yellow sunflower emoji to their social media profiles and wearing sunflowers in their hair and on their clothing. Some are planting seeds so more sunflowers can grow.

In a video that recently went viral, a Ukrainian woman was heard telling armed Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil, “Take these seeds so sunflowers grow here when you die,” BBC News reported.

On Monday, first lady Jill Biden was photographed wearing a white face covering with a sunflower stitched onto it.

On Tuesday, she wore the flower on the sleeve of her dress at the State of the Union address, as President Biden declared, “We the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also donned a sunflower motif in support on Tuesday.

Artists are painting sunflowers, and those who once visited Ukraine and its endless fields of yellow are sharing photographs of the scenes they captured there.

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In the summer of 1996, sunflowers were planted by officials at the Pervomaysk missile base in southern Ukraine to mark the removal of nuclear weapons from the country.

“The ceremony celebrated Ukraine’s abandonment of the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, which it inherited in the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union,” The Washington Post reported at the time.

On Facebook, people and small businesses in the United Kingdom are using the platform to share the ways in which they are supporting Ukraine and the more than half-million people forced to flee.

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One florist in Leeds, England, shared photos of arranged sunflower bouquets, urging people to buy them so that the proceeds could be given to charity.

“All money taken will be donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal,” wrote the shop, called Arts and Flowers.

Its owner, Kirstie Cale, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that she felt compelled to help.

“We have to do something,” said Cale, 51. “Anything is better than nothing.”

She said she just wanted to “do her bit,” and that the shop was selling bouquets and single flowers and putting together a display of sunflowers inside the store.