Remarks at the Polish American Rally at the White House
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Timothy L. Kuzma
Polish Falcons of America
It is a great honor to be asked to speak here today. I want to extend greetings to all of you here today from the Officers, Directors, Staff and the 20,000 members of the Polish Falcons of America.
This past Sunday I attended the memorial services in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, to honor the brave young Polish men who volunteered to join the Polish Army that would eventually go on to fight in World War I for the independence of Poland. Numbers vary, but at least 25,000 men were trained at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Of these, 26 passed away while in training from influenza epidemic and are buried in the St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The creation of this Army took a serious turn in April 1917 when famous Polish pianist and statesman, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, came to Pittsburgh at a Special Convention of the Polish Falcons of America. His purpose at that meeting was to call for the establishment of a Kościuszko Army. That dream came to reality as recruiting began in earnest following the Convention. Training facilities were established in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Polish Blue Army would soon head to Europe under the command of General Józef Haller.
They fought bravely, with many giving their lives in the struggle. They were willing to make that sacrifice because they knew that the successful outcome of the War for the Allies would lead to a Free Poland.
Sadly, that independence and freedom would only last for two decades as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland to start World War II. Though they fought bravely, the Poles were overwhelmed and once again were subject to the brutality of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. When this War ended the Allies did not come to Poland’s aid and they allowed this great ally and brave people to fall behind the Iron Curtain.
More than 50 years of Communist oppression did not stifle the Polish Spirit. We can agree that nothing can stifle the Polish Spirit.
In 1989, the Soviet Union collapsed and Poland became free again. Since then, Poland joined NATO and then the European Union. Its economy is booming. Poland is one of the few NATO nations that meets its defense obligations.
A strong Poland is important and critical to the security of the U.S. and Europe. Poland has proven time and again that we in the United States can count on Poland as a loyal and faithful ally. Poland can only hope that the same can be said about the U.S. and the NATO alliance.
If we take anything away from today, it’s that we—Polish Americans—must hold our elected officials and government accountable. I say to all elected officials, and those considering running for office, and I say this to everyone in all levels of government and both parties—If you can’t pledge your support to the security of Poland and Eastern Europe, then you can’t count on our support for you. You aren’t going to take our loyalty, our support and our willingness to fight and die for freedom for granted. We expect and demand that of you.