Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 11 important in America and Poland

In America, November 11 is Veterans Day.

In Poland, it is Independence Day.

It celebrates the restoration of Poland as a nation after 123 years of partition by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. All three were losers in World War I, so the Poles seized the opportunity to become a unified country again.

After World War II, the Soviet Union wiped out the day but Poles celebrated privately anyway. By 1989, with the Soviet influence subjugated, Poland restored November 11 as its Independence Day.

In the Early Middle Ages, Slavs migrated to the Polish lands. By 1569 there was a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By 1795 the Russians, Prussians and Habsburgs took over the country and partitioned it.

In reality there was no Poland from 1795 to 1918. Or in 1939 till the end of World War II. The Third Polish Republic began in 1989 under pressure from Lech Walesa and the Solidarity trade union born in the Gdansk shipyard.

There are links to Polish and American independence.

Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kościuszko, who fought the Russians and Prussia on behalf of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, became a brigadier general in the Continental Army and designed West Point and its fortifications that proved difficult to penetrate because of its location.

Casimir Pulaski is considered the father of the American cavalry. He came across the Atlantic Ocean at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, and saved George Washington’s life during one battle involving his Pulaski Calvary Legion. Pulaski is among eight people given honorary American citizenship.

In Monongah, West Virginia the Polish Catholic St. Stanislaus Church of my childhood there are three photos on the basement walls: Kosciuszko, Pulaski and Christ. In that order.

In America, November 11 first was called Armistice Day, when World War I hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918 with the signing at Compiegne, France between representatives of the Allies and Germany.

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