The guest of honor at the Polish Embassy’s celebration of Polish Armed Forces Day last week was General Colin Powell. Powell received one of the highest awards the Polish nation can bestow upon a foreigner. U.S. Ambassador Robert Kupiecki called on the Chief of Protocol of the Embassy to read the Presidential Decree:
“In recognition of outstanding services in the development of Polish-American military cooperation and support for Poland in her goal to reach NATO membership, the President of the Republic of Poland has conferred the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to General Colin Powell.”
From General Powell’s remarks:
“The Ambassador made reference to the confidence we had in the Polish Armed forces at the time of Desert Storm, there never was any question in my mind that we could have such confidence. … It was Poland who started the whole movement, in the 70’s and 80’s with the Solidarity movement, and what you did in the 80’s while others were still trapped in the vice of Soviet imperialism — it was Poland that showed the way. And finally you were free — you were democratic. You’ve shown us what a solid democratic system can do. You joined NATO, you joined the European Union. Earlier this year you suffered a terrible tragedy, and I came here and expressed my condolences to the Polish people but what impressed us was the way in which your solid democratic system, your military democratic system, responded to that crisis. In a short period of time you had restored stability within the government, not that stability was really lost but you had come forward with a democratic way of handling such a crisis. This was something that impressed the world and especially impressed your friends here in the United State of America.
Poland now is an important part of the western alliance. You’re with us in Iraq, you’re with us in Afghanistan. We know we can count on you, and I’ll say again what I said in a speech many, many years ago… you can always count on the United States of America. We’ve been together as people — if not states — as people for 400 years, and we will stay that way for another 400.”
Members of the American Polish Forum with Gen. Powell:
L to R: Bartek Szewczyk, Amanda Gujda, Filip Mielczak, Michal Gujda, Gen. Powell, Aleksandra Kulczuga, Margaret Lawrynowicz