WASHINGTON, D.C. Polish Armed Forces Day was celebrated here on September 30, 2010 at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. The numerous military, diplomatic, governmental, civilian and Polonia guests were hosted by Ambassador Robert Kupiecki and Brigadier General Leszek Soczewica.
Ambassador Kupiecki welcomed everyone and said that Poland reserves this special day to honor its generations of armed forces who fought for - and defend - Poland. Today, a free Poland is an active member of NATO and the European Union. The U.S. supports Poland as a military partner with advanced training and modern equipment; and Poland currently cooperates with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Poland's Minister of Defense, Bogdan Klich, was the guest of honor. His recent meeting here with Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense was described as "concise and useful. " It focused on stationing U.S. Patriot missiles, transport aircraft, F-16 fighter planes, and possibly its special forces, in Poland. Klich addressed Poland's NATO military commitments in Afghanistan, and Poland's planned withdraw from there in 2014 at the latest.
The highlight of the evening was the introduction of Colin Powell and his wife Alma. He was a U.S. General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993), which topped his long and fruitful military career. Powell later entered the political arena and eventually served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2001-2005.
Now retired, at age 73, Powell was being honored by Poland for his ongoing military and political support over the years and promoting Poland's accession to NATO. Minister Klich decorated Powell with the distinguished Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, with hearty congratulations.
In his address, Powell thanked Poland and its people for the special honor they bestowed on him. He stressed the historical links between Poland and the U.S., mentioning the critical contributions of Generals Pulaski and Kosciuszko, and also statesman Ignacy Paderewski who, with major U.S. assistance, was able to reestablish Poland on the world map after 123 years of lost nationhood. On a personal note, Powell mentioned that he grew up in New York City in an environment of immigrants, including Polish, where he learned about pierogi and kielbasy.
"I'm a great friend of Poland for many years, and Poland has been a great friend of America for hundreds of years; and it's a great honor for me to be here today and receive this prestigious award," spoke the Honorable Colin L. Powell at the conclusion of the ceremonies.
written by Richard P. Poremski & Janusz Romanski, October 5, 2010
I recommend My American Journey, by Colin Powell