18 maja 2004
On May the 18th 2004 President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski and his spouse took part in the celebration at the Cemetery of the Polish Soldiers at Monte Cassino. Addressing the gathering the president said (excerpt): Monte Cassino is a sanctuary of our history. Sixty years ago one of the most important battles of the Second World War took place here. Soldiers of the II Polish Corps who arrived in Italy had already gone a long way. Monte Cassino was the key point of the Italian front. The whole military campaign and the opening of the way to Rome depended on conquering it. However the front had not moved for many months. Three preceding attacks of the Allied Nations at Monte Cassino had not be successful. Then the Polish soldiers took the task upon themselves. It was to be a sign and a proof for our allies that Poland fought for her independence and sovereignty. After that triumph others followed, such as the successful battles of Piedimonte, Monte Cairo, Ancona, Bologna. Historic fate led our soldiers from the East, through Lenino to Berlin. Today we bow our heads to them. Many Poles have made a pilgrimage to this sanctuary for the last 60 years. General Władysław Anders came here many times to visit his soldiers. Pope John Paul II and Polish presidents went on a pilgrimage to that place, as well. We are here today to pay tribute to our heroes. We are grateful to them and will always remember them. The legend of this battle and the red weeds growing at Monte Cassino make us recall the hardships of the Polish history. It was a lesson of patriotism and national pride. The Polish nation took strength also from here to fight for independence and human rights in 1980, to overturn the old system peacefully at the round table and to replace it by the state of democracy, to inspire other nations and to contribute to the demolition of the walls in Europe. Dear combatants, Europe of today, secure and united, owes you a lot. This May of 2004 is merrier than that of 1944, marked with triumph of the battlefield. Poland in European Union and NATO means a reversal of Polish fortunes. It is the ending of the tragedy of the nation, the end of the struggle. We are free among the free, secure among the secure, equal among the equal. We belong to the European Union and with it we can look ahead with hope. Dear combatants, please accept our gratitude and tribute. Soldiers of free Poland, of United Europe thank you! We pay tribute to your fight and your sacrifice.