Ukrainian flags of all sizes flew over Minneapolis' Stone Arch Bridge as the sun was setting Saturday, and several buildings on the downtown skyline were lit in the blue and yellow Ukrainian national colors.

It was a commemoration of a grim anniversary: two years since the start of Russia's full-scale attempt to invade and conquer the eastern European country.

Local organizers put together a rally that drew about 500 people, including second-generation Ukrainian-Minnesotans, refugee children and wounded Ukrainian Army veterans.

Others attended who simply believe in the cause, most prominently U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. In a packed room at the Ukrainian American Community Center in northeast Minneapolis, Klobuchar shook hands with Ukrainian soldiers who were in wheelchairs and holding crutches.

The soldiers are among about 150 people — civilians as well as soldiers, adults and children — who have been wounded in the war and flown to Minnesota by the Protez Foundation to be fitted with prosthetics.

One of those was 25-year-old Aleksandr Bazylevych, a Ukrainian soldier who described a Sept. 23 firefight in which he tried to help a wounded comrade. "I shoot back. I take him from direct fire," he said.

But then a grenade landed near him. Bazylevych lost both legs and his left arm.

Bazylevych and other Ukrainian supporters pledged Saturday that their country will keep fighting until Russia is driven out of Ukraine. But they also were there to make a plea: Ukraine needs more military aid from the United States if it's going to win the war.

And they warned that if Ukraine is defeated, Russian President Vladimir Putin won't stop there.

"If Ukraine falls, NATO nations are next," said Mykola Sarazhynskyy, a Twin Cities resident originally from Ukraine who has helped organize shipments of medical supplies to the country.

"It's not just Ukrainian freedom," said Michael Petelin, a native Ukrainian who came to the U.S. as an exchange student 31 years ago. "It's a stand between good and evil."

The emotional event — one of scores of similar ones held around the world Saturday — featured prayers and patriotic music. Stephen Vitvitsky, an official with the Stand With Ukraine MN organization, said Minnesotans need to contact their representatives in Congress and urge them to support a foreign aid bill to help Ukraine.

Vitvitsky said he has contact numbers for his representatives and the White House on his phone. "And I call them every day," he said. "Ukraine can't liberate its people or its land without the help of the United States."

Event organizers praised Klobuchar for her support for Ukraine, which included an early call for sanctions against Russia and multiple visits to the country during the war.

"When someone is with you every step of the way, that's not just a friend, that's family," said Yosyf Sabir, one of the organizers of the event.

Klobuchar praised those fighting against the odds for the cause and the way they have defied Russian aggression.

"It is standing room only for a reason," Klobuchar said of the crowded event. "Because in Minnesota, we stand with Ukraine and we stand with these soldiers."

Klobuchar joined the group as they chanted, sang and marched from the Ukrainian community center to the Stone Arch Bridge, where Ukrainian children and soldiers held symbolic sunflowers and sheaves of wheat.

When asked for final remarks, she led the crowd in shouting the country's battle cry and national salute: "Slava Ukraini!" — "Glory to Ukraine!"