A Day of Remembrance
Holy Mass was celebrated at the Field Cathedral of the Polish Army in Warsaw, for the fallen and deceased in missions and operations beyond the Polish borders, with the participation of family members.
A commemorative Memorial Roll Call in front of the Center for Foreign Missions Veterans took place (Pol.: Centrum Weterana Działań poza Granicami Państwa), attended by Defence Ministry leadership staff, veterans and participants of missions.
“This day reminds us of the military sacrifice made by all our soldiers, for whom the mission was their last,” said the Director of the Center for Foreign Missions Veterans Lt. Col. Leszek Stępień. “We trust that the memory of their sacrifice will not only not be lost, but will forever become part of our rich military tradition,” he added.
Lt. Col. Stepień further reminded those present about the genesis of the Day of Remembrance, established on the anniversary of the tragic events that took place five years ago. On that day in the Afghan province of Ghazni, a Polish military patrol vehicle ran onto a mine, killing five soldiers of the 20th Bartoszycka Mechanized Brigade. In the Memorial Roll Call, the memory of those soldiers was recalled, and those who also had died in UN, NATO and EU missions in Korea, Egypt, the Golan Heights, Namibia, Lebanon, Cambodia, Tajikistan, in the Balkans, in Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“On December 21st, 5 years ago, the Republic of Poland lost five of its soldiers. This day has become a symbol of the memory of those fallen and deceased in missions and military operations outside the country,” recalled Deputy Minister Barłomiej Grabski. In closing his remarks, the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of National Defence recalled the words of the late President of the Republic of Poland and Head of the Armed Forces, Lech Kaczyński: "A soldier does not die, a soldier sacrifices his life for the Homeland."
At the Military University of Technology club, an awards ceremony took place during which commemorative albums and statuettes were presented and a Christmas concert was given with the participation of the Representative Artistic Team of the Polish Army.
“It is a great honor for me that I, on behalf of the Minister of National Defence, have been given the privilege of representing the ministry for these important events. It is a great honor that I can be with you today in memory of those who gave up their lives for their country. I am honored that, although only in such a symbolic way, I will be able to present you with statuettes and albums, on behalf of the Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz, emphasizing that Your sons, fathers, husbands have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, for the sake of our safety. I bow my head before You on behalf of the entire Ministry of National Defence and all of the Armed Forces,” said the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of National Defence Bartłomiej Grabski during the ceremony at the Military University of Technology.
The Deputy Minister of National Defence delivered to those gathered his special Christmas greetings. “Each year, each of us goes on a spiritual journey to Bethlehem. Yuletide and its beautiful message calls for a sense of deep reflection. Christmas time will be, especially for you, a period of remembrance of those dear and close ones, whose presence during these days as well as in all other days, is so missing. I wish that these days will be ones of memorable family gatherings for you, full of joy, as well as the fact that Your loved remain among us all.”
The ceremony ended with a Christmas vigil meeting of the leadership of the Ministry of National Defence, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland, religious military ministries, representatives of the families of soldiers killed and those who had died during various military missions, veterans, participants of military missions and representatives of non-governmental organizations and organizations acting on behalf of veterans.