Crowners and Poles in Lithuania – one Nation beyond borders

Wileńska Młodzież Patriotyczna

The division of Association of Poles in Lithuania “Wileńska Młodzież Patriotyczna” (Vilnius Patriotic Youth) was honoured to have Poles from Poland–the Crowners (koroniarze; term derived from “Korona Królestwa Polskiego”–Crown of the Kingdom of Poland)–as guests in Vilnius. They came from II Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Mieszka I (Mieszko I General Secondary School No. 2) in Szczecin.

The visit was organised by Vilnius Patriotic Youth and a Polish teacher from Szczecin, Ireneusz Statnik. The Crowners wanted to feel unity with their compatriots from Lithuania, as well as learn about our problems and needs–they were preparing for the visit for a month by reading and analysing issues of Kurier Wileński at their Polish lessons.

The meeting was supposed to last only an hour but (to everyone’s joy) it ended after three hours. After the meeting, the Crowners–over 40 people–went hungry insisted on eating something local, something that they wouldn’t find in the Crown, in Poland. After lunch, we went to Šalčininkai. On our road there, we stopped by Jašiūnai where we left white-and-red flags by the Jašiūnai Manor, which is finally being renovated and, hopefully, will be renovated.

We came to Šalčininkai where we all sat together at dormitory of Gimnazjum im. Jana Śniadeckiego (Jan Śniadecki Middle School) to drink tea, eat Lithuanian bread, and, as Polish tradition has it, talk. As usual for Poles, soon we started singing. At first, someone hummed innocently “Maszerują strzelcy” (“Infantrymen Are Marching”) and, a few minutes later, everyone was singing “Hej, Sokoły” (“Hey, Falcons”), a song well-known to anyone who has ever been to a meeting of more than one Pole.

After four [sic] hours of exhausting loud singing, which one could describe as screaming at the top of our lungs, we started going back to Vilnius. That was the time when we felt the problems and distances that divide us–after all, there’s over 560 miles (900 km) from Vilnius to Szczecin.

We all were sad that we couldn’t stay longer with each other but time was pressing. We shook each other’s hands, patted each other’s backs, and hugged each other. Something was missing, something was still waiting. “Rota.” The song that leads us–the song that unites us all as one Nation beyond borders. After we sang it, we said goodbye a few times. It was just hard to bid farewell to our distinguished Crowners.

Eventually, we departed–we felt that Vilnius remained the capital of Romanticism and patriotism. Everything was different there, more illogical, but beautiful. We didn’t regret that day, we had spent it comfortably in good company but, above all, we, the Vilnius Patriotic Youth, made a promise to the Crowners from Szczecin, and they did the same to us. We renewed and confirmed the ties that bind us.

And as an old saying goes, a saying that puts fear in hearts of anti-Polish Lithuanian politicians and everyone who treats Lithuanian Poles as a group separate from Poland. A saying that outraged politicians when the sports fans hung it at the Rasos Cemetery. Its words are simple yet so hard to understand; these words are important: “One Nation beyond borders!”

The division of Association of Poles in Lithuania

“Wileńska Młodzież Patriotyczna”

Source: http://l24.lt/pl/spoleczenstwo/item/36239-koroniarze-i-polacy-na-litwie-jeden-narod-ponad-granicami

Tłumaczenie by Michał M. Kowalski w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Michał M. Kowalski within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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