Polish Armed Forces Day Gala
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The multitude of military attaches from the plethora of Washington’s embassies were not the least bit alone at the Polish ambassador’s residence here on September 27, 2018 while celebrating Polish Armed Forces Day. The miscellany multitude comprising the few hundred guests included many representatives of the U.S. Armed Forces and government, accredited diplomats, Polish army veterans, notable and influential persons, the Polonia and its representative organizations. The event was co-hosted by Ambassador Piotr Wilczek and Commanding Defense Attache Major General Cezary Wisniewski. Assistant Defense Attache Lieutenant Colonel Sylwia Szawlowska proficiently served as the event’s architect and master of ceremonies.
IN PHOTO: Polish Air Force Band Soars. Military Attache Air Force Major General Cezary Wisniewski (far right) is depicted with his wife Agnieszka Wisniewska, and band director Major Pawel Jost. The band adroitly entertained with a wide variety of music during the evening, including martial, folk and pop – including the worthy singing of a few songs. In honor of their American counterpart, the band also performed a stirring rendition of the U.S. Air Force’s theme song – “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder.” And they did.
Ambassador Piotr Wilczek warmly welcomed the guests and luminaries. He began his remarks by recounting the 1920 Battle of Warsaw in which the Polish army – in a desperate last-ditch stand – defeated the invading Bolshevik Red Army at the banks of the Vistula River. This effectively stopped the communist Red Tide from sweeping unimpeded westward across a World War I war-torn and prostrated Europe. Key to the victory was the Kosciuszko Squadron, comprised of 21 brave American volunteer pilots who flew for the nascent Polish air force.
Ambassador Wilczek also harkened back to the days of the American Revolutionary War when Polish Generals’ Kosciuszko and Pulaski helped to lead American soldiers to victory; by remembering that Polish and American troops fought alongside each other to liberate Europe from the Nazi German scourge; and that Polish soldiers went to Iraq and Afghanistan to support and fight with U.S. and NATO forces. After overviewing the presence of the U.S. military in Poland, and Poland’s strategic NATO role in defending Central and Eastern Europe – especially NATO’s and Poland’s eastern flank front line, Wilczek stated that “Today the Polish-American Military partnership is stronger than ever.”
Major General Cezary Wisniewski expanded on Ambassador Wilczek’s remarks in general and on the August 15, 1920 Polish victory at the Battle of Warsaw. He explained in detail how the Kosciuszko Squadron contributed greatly in this and other critical battles by changing the face of the battlefield in Poland’s favor. Wisniewski made special mention of Polish General Josef Haller’s Blue Army (Blekitna Armia) – due to the color of their blue uniforms – that consisted of 22,000 Polish-American volunteers that fought first in France during World War I (1914-1918) and later transitioned to Poland to play a crucial role in the Battle of Warsaw in defense of the newly resurrected Polish nation.
There was further cause for celebration when General Wisniewski bestowed upon Dr. Janusz Romanski, of Ridley Park, PA, the Bronze Medal of the Polish Armed Forces “In recognition of support and the strengthening of Polish American relationships, and for leadership and exemplary work in the Polish American veteran’s community.” The ceremony was punctuated by a trumpet fanfare from the band and loud applause from the assembly.
In keeping with the evening’s theme of Polish and American martial history, cooperation and solidarity was the Guest of Honor – U.S. Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel, the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, commanding 453,000 Army and Air National Guard soldiers and airmen. He began his remarks by saying that he must have a Polish connection because the name “Lengel” in Hungarian means “from Poland.” We were reminded that the national guards from our various north-east states fought with Kosciuszko to victory at the key Battle of Saratoga, saying that “We are still engaged 241 years later fighting for freedom and democracy.” General Lengel stated that for the past 25 years there has been close U.S. National Guards’ cooperation in training and operations with Poland, especially that with the Illinois National Guard. He ended with “We train together and fight together … now and into the future.”
The 98th Polish Armed Forces Day ended with an evening of international comradery and good will, and especially between the two familial nations of Poland and the United States.
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
October 10, 2018