Often Poland is forgotten in terms of her significance in world history. The Polish people probably give the best example in Europe of what it means to be Catholic. The numbers of people who are Catholic, not only in name but also in action, is quite impressive. They give excellent example in their devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Blessed Mother and their loyalty to the Pope. The Faith plays not a small part in their trying to do what is good, not just for themselves but also for others. This was the first country in which Communism was toppled in 1989.
Last week, I devoted the pastor’s column to the first part of a blog by Daniel Cassidy regarding Poland’s defense of the West. It dealt with her prevention of the Turkish takeover of Europe at the gates of Vienna in 1683. This article now concludes with her valiant strides in modern history.
Throughout the 19th century, Poles fought for freedom wherever the struggle raged, in Latin America, Greece and Italy, and on the Union side in our Civil War. Although their country had been raped by the great powers of Europe, Poles kept her cause alive.
Again and again, Poles rose against their occupiers, only to be savagely put down, with their finest young men slaughtered or marched to Siberian prisons. Then, at the end of the Great War, Poland suddenly reappeared on the maps.
What did the Poles do? They immediately saved Western civilization yet again. In the now-forgotten "Miracle on the Vistula," a patched-together Polish army turned back the Red hordes headed for Berlin. One of history's most brilliant campaigns, it saved defeated Germany from a communist takeover. Poland's thanks? The slaughter of World War II. Then the Soviet occupation.
But the Poles never gave up. Their language, their faith—and their martial traditions—were maintained with rigor and pride. Of all the countries that gained their freedom as the Soviet Union collapsed, none had struggled for liberty as relentlessly as Poland.
Now the Poles are defending freedom again. In Iraq. While the establishment media agonize over the fickle moods of Paris and Berlin, there's little mention in the press of the superb contribution made by our Polish allies—at great cost to their own country.
In the words of an American officer who works closely with them, "Poland has taken to the Iraq mission for idealistic and principled purposes: Its leadership and military truly believe that freedom and justice are universal values worth fighting for."
To how many other nations would those words apply?
Poland has deployed 2,500 of its best soldiers to Iraq. It sent $64 million worth of its newest equipment—which operations in Iraq will ruin. Warsaw selected its finest officers to command and staff the Multinational Division Center South. A Polish major general commands a total of 12,000 troops from 22 nations with responsibility for a sector previously held by twice as many U.S. Marines. The Polish performance has been flawless....
It's a mistake to over-idealize any nation. But if there's a land of heroes anywhere between the English Channel and the coast of California, it's Poland. Our Polish allies have taken a brave, costly, principled stand for freedom and democracy in Iraq. They desperately want to be seen by Washington as reliable friends in this treacherous world.
The least we could do is to treat them with respect.
By Daniel J. Cassidy (sunlituplands.blogspot.com/2007/07):