DOYLESTOWN, Pa. - The day was overcast and gloomy, portending rain - which it eventually did. But the threatening weather could not stop the battle-hardened and much-bemedaled Polish soldiers of WW II - and other veterans- from formally assembling here on August 19, 2007, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, for the yearly observance of Polish Soldier's Day. The veteran's mission now is to honor the men and women of Poland's armed forces while simultaneously demonstrating solidarity with them, and to pay homage to their fallen and deceased comrades-in-arms.
About 150 uniformed participants from the greater regional area gathered together for the formal ceremonies. The groups represented, in various formations, were: the Polish Army Veterans Association of America (S.W.A.P. = Polish acronym), along with its Ceremonial Rifle Squad and Women's Auxiliary; Polish Combat Veterans of WW II (S.P.K. = Polish acronym); The Pulaski Cadets; and Polish Boy/Girl Scouts. Together, they presented a most impressive sight when assembled in long formation for review - and their rainbow of many colorful national and military flags served to dramatically brighten up the grey sky.
An attending delegation of four officials represented the Republic of Poland: Minister Janusz Krupski, Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, in Warsaw; departing Brigadier General Kazimierz Sikorski and arriving Brigadier General Leszek Soczewica, Military Attaches at the Embassy of Poland in Washington; and Consul General Krzysztof Kasprzyk, in New York.
The tiered ceremonies included the laying of wreaths and a measured rank-by-rank inspection of the former soldier's combined formation by Poland's delegation, the veteran's national commanders, and clergy. The veterans, and supporting groups, then marched in review to lively martial music, accepting and returning the salutes of the aforementioned dignitaries assembled on the reviewing stand. They then proceeded directly into the magnificent shrine-church for high mass celebrated by a host of priests, accompanied by a sizable angelic choir and masterful organ music.
To be sure, the watch-words of the Armed Forces of Poland (Wojsko) -"Honor and Fatherland" ("Honor i Ojczyzna") - was faithfully abided by and further solemnized on this special day of military celebration.