God Bless the Veterans!
A statement from the Kościuszko Chair on Veterans’ Day 2012
11 November 2012
Dear Friends and Supporters of IWP,
As we recover from election-time excitement and prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies at IWP wishes to honor all those brave and patriotic men and women who have served and sacrificed on behalf of our beloved country, and continue to do so. On a daily basis, they place their lives on the line in some of the world’s most dangerous places so that we may have peace and liberty at home. It is our veterans who stand as a testimony to the fact that we can never take such precious values as tranquility and freedom for granted. As President Reagan – who understood this relationship between peace and strength particularly well – pointed out wisely: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
American veterans safeguard not only our own liberty and security, but have also furthered the cause of freedom and peace throughout the world. While tyrannical regimes of various stripes continue to rule over important parts of the globe, Americans have sacrificed to contain or roll back many threats to freedom. Thus, we crushed the German Nazis, held in check world communism, and eventually imploded the Soviet Bloc.
Further proof of the above statement is that America’s Veterans’ Day, commemorated on 11 November, also happens to be Poland’s Independence Day. This is no mere coincidence of dates. The US had contributed greatly to the defeat of the German-led Central Powers during the First World War; American economic and military power finally broke the stalemate on the Western Front. The fall of the empires that had partitioned Poland and held her captive for almost 150 years was crowned by the signing of the armistice at Compiègne by the representatives of Germany and the Entente on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. While the Poles had fought hard, both on the battle fields and in diplomatic chanceries, to rebuild their state, the armistice facilitated the Polish declaration of independence on the very same day. The US President, Woodrow Wilson, also included a sovereign Polish state in his Fourteen Points, an agenda of priorities for a postwar order. This American sympathy for Poland no doubt stemmed from a respect for the invaluable contributions of such Poles as Tadeusz Kościuszko and Casimir Pulaski in America’s own War of Independence. Further, both nations understood well that such treasures as independence, freedom, and peace require sacrifice.
God Bless America’s brave veterans!