Yesterday was Polish Independence Day. We celebrated in an official way….
…and in a non-official way.
It was a really lovely day spent with our children.
Poland’s borders have changed dramatically over the last thousand years. Poland has grown and shrunk and even disappeared from the map altogether. I recommend checking out this page to get the whole effect. You can see how the map of Poland changes from the 10th century up until now.
During times of expansion, Poland reached its largest size under Zygmunt Stary I (reigning 1506-1548) reaching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Poland was cut in size during the first partition of Poland which took place in 1772 with the Prussians, Russians and Austrians pushing on Poland from all sides. The 2nd partition by Prussians and Russians took place in 1793 reducing the size of Poland even more, with the 3rd partition of Poland taking place in 1795 by Russians, Prussians and again the Austrians thus removing an independent Poland from the map. Poland as an independent country did not return to the map until 1918 starting with uprisings and border changes (led, of course, by Józef Piłsudski). In 1920 the Russians attacked and the borders continued to change for the next few years until 1939 when Poland came under Russian and Nazi German rule. After WWII, the borders were re-set in 1945 (with a minor adjustment in 1951), but unfortunately leaving a proud “independent” Poland behind the iron curtain.
In 1980 Solidarity began and in 1981 martial law was declared. The iron curtain fell in 1989 with the first “free” elections in Poland (the communist party allowed free elections for 1/3 of the seats in the Sejm but free elections were allowed for the entire Senate). Poland is on its 4th president since then – Lech Wałęsa from 1990-1995, Alexsander Kwaśniewski from 1995-2005 during which Poland joined the European Union, Lech Kaczyński from 2005-2010 ending with his death in a plane crash and currently President Bronisław Komorowski who governs with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, both members of the same political party PO (Civic Platform). (Ok, ok, Poland is on its 5th President actually if we count General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s presidency in 1989-1990. He was selected by the parliament, not in the popular vote.)
Enough with the history in a nutshell. Back to us. In addition to our official and non-official celebrations, we watched the official military parade and speeches broadcast from Warsaw. I love these kinds of holidays and watching the soldiers march. Lizzie and Rosie also enjoyed a good march around Babcia and Dziadek’s apartment, I am sure to the enjoyment of the neighbors downstairs. Speaking of marching, last year marked the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII. A monumental parade was held in Red Square in Moscow in which soldiers from Russia (of course), Poland, the US, Britain and France took part. I remember the TV interviews with some of the Polish troops returning from the trip and the questions regarding marching. In my opinion Polish troops march well. They really put on a good show. The Polish troops felt that they did a good job in Moscow but stated that the Russians really know how to march. Unfortunately, the almost unanimous opinion was that the US troops marched the worst of the group and that their march “lacked heart”. :(
Official ceremony from Warsaw – President and First Lady
fot. PAP / Jacek Turczyk
fot. PAP / Radek Pietruszka
PAP/ Tomasz Gzell
(fot. Grażyna Myślińska/FORUM)
wp.pl Paweł Kozioł
wp.pl Paweł Kozioł
On a lighter note, here’s a funny map of Europe I found here.
Europe according to Americans
I live in the buffer zone between the Commies and the country of Dirty Porn. That would make me a nervous neighbor…a very nervous neighbor.