- August 15, 2015
Tribute was paid to soldiers of the Polish Army at Rasos Cemetery
The Defence Attaché, Colonel Zbigniew Szlęk said during the ceremony of the Day of the Polish Army at Rasos Cemetery that it was the day of a celebration of both Polish soldiers and all Poles. He added that that day was celebrated in Poland, in others places around the world and also in Lithuania.
Placing flower tributes on the tombstone of the mausoleum of Józef Piłsudki’s mother and his heart at Rasos Cemetery in Vilnius is a tradition of the celebration of the Day of the Polish Army in Vilnius. At Rasos Cemetery on Saturday there were many guests: the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Vilnius Jarosław Czubiński, Polish Consul General in Vilnius Stanisław Cygnarowski, the Defence Attaché Zbigniew Szlęk, combatants, representatives of Polish social, cultural and educational organisations, scouts, inhabitants of Vilnius and the environs of Vilnius.
“As always we gather here on 15 August because this place is significant for all Poles; here is buried Piłsudski’s heart and ashes of his mother. He was a Marshal, Commander-in-chief and person who in 1920 led to the greatest Polish victory since the victory in the battle of Vienna. The success from 1920 saved not only the independent Poland but also the whole democratic Europe from Communist totalitarianism. Today, while paying tribute to a great Commander, we pay tribute to all soldiers because on the day of an anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw, Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland have their annual celebration, namely the Day of the Polish Army. This day is a celebration of both Polish soldiers and all Poles, which is celebrated in Poland, in others places around the world and also in Lithuania”, says the Defence Attaché, Colonel Zbigniew Szlęk in the beginning of the ceremony.
The Colonel said in his speech that soldiers of the Polish Army who had fought that day to save everything they had had, had been the people who truly had led to the victory in the battle of Warsaw. “The Independent Poland and we, contemporary Poles, owe those veterans of fights for independence the highest respect and gratitude. This day is the time for remembering heroes of Polish wars and the time for paying tribute to protectors of our independence. We also remember about defenders and saviours of Vilnius in every military campaign that took place here”, says Colonel Szlęk.
He gave examples of Polish -Lithuanian military cooperation within the EU and NATO, including creation of Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian brigade and air mission of NATO, during which the Polish military contingent “Orlik” protected the Baltic airspace for the 6th time.
Many scouts attended the ceremony. “Love for thy neighbour, your homeland and God are scouts’ values. Today’s celebration is a sign of love for one’s homeland. Scout boys and girls from the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association in Lithuania’s (ZHPnL) situation is quite complicated because the Polish minority in Lithuania has a kind of national identity disorder” says Sabina Maksimowicz, the chair of ZHPnL, in the interview with zw.lt. She added that the participation in such events shaped patriotism and the sense of belonging to a nation.
The second part of the celebration takes place in Zułów. At 3 p.m there is the ceremony of paying tribute to founders of the Polish Army and the Polish country and commemoration of heroes who fought for independence of Poland. The programme of the ceremony organised by the Association of Poles in Lithuania includes: performance by the Polish Theatrical studio in Vilnius, consecration of stelae in the Avenue of National Remembrance and picnic on the grass.
On 16 August (Sunday) in Miedniki Królewskie (lit. Medininkai) at 12 noon there is an annual, ceremonial mass and procession to the cemetery. At 1 p.m. ceremony of placing flower tributes at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Polish Army (Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza WP) takes place at the cemetery in Miedniki Królewskie. At 2 p.m. there is the Polish Theatrical Studio in Vilnius’ artistic performance. The opening of the exhibition of weapons of AK (the Home Army) is planned for 3 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. there is food tasting of the Polish soldiers cuisine.
Translated by Barbara Żur within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.