The day before the celebration of Polish Independence Day twelve Poles from Vilnius Region received prestigious decorations of the Republic of Poland for the contribution to the development of Polish education in Lithuania and care for Polish memorials.
On Thursday, November 8, in the Palace of the Pac Family in Vilnius Janusz Skolimowski, an ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Lithuania, decorated meritorious Poles form Vilnius Region. Twelve people were decorated on Polish President Bronisław Komorowski’s recommendation for their contribution to the development of Polish education in Lithuania and care for Polish memorials.
Adam Błaszkiewicz, a director of John Paul II Upper-Secondary School in Vilnius [Polish: Gimnazjum im. Jana Pawła II w Wilnie] and chairman of Polish Scouting in Lithuania [Polish: Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego na Litwie], received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland [Polish: Krzyż Oficerski Orderu Zasugi RP]. Mr. Błaszkiewicz is also active in the Social Committee for the Care of Old Rasos [Polish: Społeczny Komitet Opieki nad Starą Rossą].
Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland [Polish: Krzyż Kawalerski Orderu Zasługi RP] was awarded to Renata Brasel, a director of two artistic groups “Wilia” and “Solczanie”, and Janina Gieczewska, a chairwoman of the Polish Section of Political Prisoners and Deportees Community from Vilnius [Polish: Polska Sekcja Wileńskiej Wspólnoty Więźniów Politycznych i Zesłańców].
The Gold Cross of Merit [Polish: Złoty Krzyż Zasługi RP] was awarded to: Andrzej Andruszkiewicz, a vice-mayor of Šalčininkai Region Municipality, Lucyna Kotłowska, a director of the local government administration of Vilnius District Municipality, Stefania Stankiewicz, a Social Care Department Head of Vilnius District Municipality, Irena Bejnar, a chairwoman of Švenčionys Regional Section of the Association of Poles in Lithuania [Polish: Święciański Rejonowy Oddział Związku Polaków na Litwie], Henryk Kasperowicz, a director of an artistic group “Zgoda”, and Alicja Klimaszewska, a chairwoman of the Social Committee for the Care of Old Rasos.
The Silver Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland [Polish: Srebrny Krzyż Zasługi RP] was awarded to: Rita Tamašuniene, a deputy head of the local government administration of Vilnius District Municipality, Zyta Kołoszewska, an activist of the Social Committee for the Care of Old Rasos, and Wacław Wiłkojć, a chairman of a circle of the Association of Poles in Lithuania in Švenčionėliai [Polish: Koło Związku Polaków na Litwie w Nowych Święcianach].
“In my opinion, those prestigious decorations awarded by President Komorowski will encourage you to continue your work for our common good, namely the development of Polish culture and identity, through our presence here, in independent Lithuania, and cooperation with our beloved and sovereign Poland.” said Skolimowski. The ambassador read aloud a special congratulation letter for Alicja Klimaszewska from a chairman of Jerzy Waldorff Care and Social Committee of Old Powązki [Polish: Komitet Opieki nad Starymi Powązkami im. Jerzego Waldorffa], Marcin Święcicki.
“Your work in order to preserve historic monuments of Rasos Cemetery deserves our great respect. We consider our 20 years long cooperation with you at organization of collections in Warsaw to be pleasure and ennoblement.” read the ambassador. The co-founder and chairwoman of the Social Committee for the Care of Old Rasos thanked for the honourable words and emphasized that the prestigious decoration belonged to all people who contributed to the preservation of Vilnius necropolis.
After the decoration, the ceremony in celebration of Polish Independence Day took place in Polish embassy. The Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Wilia” performed before the invited guests. Moreover, a new album about the history of a building where Polish embassy in Vilnius is located, the Palace of the Pac Family, was presented.
In his speech the ambassador stressed that November 11 is an important day not only for Poland but also for all European countries. “November 11, 1918, commemorates the end of the First World War with the result that Poland and Lithuania regained their independence, Latvia and Estonia were created as well. Because of this the common celebration of this historic event together with our partners is extremely important for us. Today we, the countries of the Baltic region, celebrate our full sovereignty. It is ensured by our military and political alliances as well as by stable democratic institutions in our countries.” said Skolimowski. He congratulated members of the new Parliament that were present at the ceremony. He also thanked members who will not work in recently elected Lithuanian Parliament for their cooperation.
Last September the Golden and Silver Crosses of Merit were awarded to members of local authorities, teachers from Polish schools in Lithuania and members of the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences and Vilnius department of Białystok University – 22 people in total.
The Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland is awarded to people who live outside Poland and whose work has contributed to the international cooperation and cooperation of Poland with other countries and nations.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.