Monday, 1 August 2016

On the eve of the Warsaw Uprising anniversary

My father's second day in Warsaw: the high point today was the open-air Mass on Plac Krasińskich followed by a roll-call (apel) in commemoration of the fallen and wreath laying at the Uprising monument.

Below: on their way to the ceremony, Kazimierz Możdzonek (left) and my father (right) passing a commemorative plaque along the way. The Polska Walcząca logo painted on the wall is a lovely touch - an informal homage to the Home Army soldiers.

Below: at the ceremony, held at the Warsaw Uprising Monument, was well staged, with choir, orchestra and representative guard of the Polish Army, along with scouts and reenactment groups, all impeccable. The backdrop of the Supreme court, appropriately lit, added to the sense of drama of the event.

Below: the Mass was said by Brigadier General Bishop Józef Guzdek, chaplain to the Polish Army. The homily referred to the words of Pope Francis, whose five-day visit to Poland for the World Youth Days ended today; the ultimate value for Man is God's merciful love.

Below: defence minister Antoni Macierewicz gave an impassioned speech in which he said (and I applauded him for it) that Poland's independence is the one thing that should unite all Poles. There was a strong theme running through the speeches today - that Poles should overcome their political differences, as they did in August 1944, when the impulse for freedom and independence took precedence.

When the wreath-laying was over, we all went our different ways; I grabbed this shot of my father alongside a group of reenactors looking just like my father and his comrades would have looked  72 years ago - young men and women fighting for their nation's freedom.

Amazingly, despite the massive storm clouds over Warsaw this afternoon and evening, hardly a drop fell on the ceremony. We had all been given umbrellas for the week-long commemorations, but unlike yesterday, when some felt they needed them as sunshades, today they remained furled.

My father is deeply impressed by Warsaw - the economic progress and modernity - but above all that the city in which he was born and raised, for which he fought - has rebounded so strongly from the ashes.

This time last year:
Once in a blue moon

This time two years ago:
A return to Snowdon - Wales' highest peak

This time four years ago:
On the eve of Warsaw's Veturillo revolution

This time five years ago:
Getting ready for the 'W'-hour flypast

This time six years ago:
A century of Polish scouting

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