Today Poles celebrate National Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości). This day commemorates the anniversary of Poland regaining its sovereignty from the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian Empires in 1918. Poland was absent from world maps for 123 years as Russia, Prussia, and Austria had partitioned it. On November 11, 1918, Józef Piłsudski returned to Warsaw from German captivity and was declared Commander in Chief of the Polish armed forces. That same day he declared the independence of the Polish state. Poland returned to Polish hands at the end of World War I thanks to the Poles’ bravery, perseverance, and dedicated fight.
November 11th is a special day for the Polish people because it represents the fulfillment of their pursuit of freedom during Poland’s long and painful history. The many doomed uprisings, the bondage of Siberian exile, and efforts to sustain Polish culture and identity were not in vain. After over a century of a consistent, dedicated, and tireless fight, Poland emerged from the iron chains of the partitioning powers. November 11th is the collective legacy of generations of Polish patriots who stood against overwhelming odds. It was the day when Poles’ dreams and hopes were fulfilled in the rebirth of their nation.
To modern Poles, November 11th is also a day to remember Poland’s struggle against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the oppression of communism. It is a reminder that Poles have gained independence of their homeland at a high price, and freedom must always be defended and cherished.
Happy Independence Day, Poland!