I would like to thank all of you for attending this celebration of Polish Independence. I would also like to thank Bergen County Executive Kathe Donovan for her support for this event.
November 11, 2012 year was the 94th anniversary of Poland’s independence. Independence Day is the most important Polish national holiday witch commemorates Poland’s rebirth after 123 years of slavery.
Poland disappeared from the map of Europe and the world in 1795, when Russia, Prussia and Austria made a third partition of Poland. It was not until World War I gave the country a chance to fight for independence. Recovery of Poland’s independence was a gradual process, and the choice of the 11th of November was not accidental. November 11, 1918, after the Germany surrender on the Western front, heralding the end of the Great War. The German troops began to withdraw from the Polish Kingdom the Regency Council entrusted the mission of creating a new government to Marshal Jozef Pilsudski.
Independence Day was officially established in 1937 and celebrated only twice, in 1937 and 1938.
During the Nazi occupation in 1939-1944 celebration of Independence Day was forbidden.
In 1945 the communist government also prohibited to celebrate November 11 until it’s long awaited collapse the Independence Day was restore again in 1989.
It is more then coincidence that Polish Independence Day falls on the day we in the United States honor our servicemen and woman.
Polish American have much to proud of for the innumerable contributions of Polish and Polish American armed forces who have fought for and died shoulder to shoulder with US forces worldwide, even in conflicts worldwide today for the freedoms we all enjoy in our privileged democracy.
Two Polish Generals – Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski played integral, strategic roles in the War for American Independence. General Pulaski sacrificed his life for American freedom.
Poles had fought during the American Civil War in the “Polish Legion” out of New York under General Wladimir Krzyzanowski. They were countless volunteers, who fought against German aggression of World War I and WW II including many local heroes, like our veterans present here today and those who continue to fight for freedom in heaven.
Bergen County is home to thousands of Poles and Polish Americans, who still have their heritage in their hearts, their traditions, language and culture in their homes, and the shared love for freedom in their now American live.
They have influenced local history, local politics, shaped local law enforcement and American traditions too.
Thank You for this moment of recognition of the splendor of Polish Independence Day.
Celina Bozena Urbankowski
Polish American Congress Northern New Jersey Division
December 5, 2012