Address by President Andrzej Duda at the Józef Piłsudski Square
Madam Prime Minister,
Deputy Prime Minister,
Men and Women in uniforms!
This is a unique moment for me, not only because as a newly inaugurated President of the Republic of Poland, I have just assumed command of the Polish armed forces but also because it is a very particular day, also from a personal angle: it is the 101st anniversary of the setting off from Cracow’s Oleandry Street of the First Cadre Company.
The order which Marshal Józef Piłsudski back then issued to his boys contained just one short statement: "You are no longer riflemen, no longer troopers; all of you gathered here, you are Polish soldiers”. Under this order they embarked on their long journey. The path which was at the time universally considered hopeless and void of any chance for success, as their song had it: "They shouted that we have grown dull, without believing want and will are one”. And they won, and achieved an independent Poland. Poland revived in 1918, rising from their blood. This certainly is one of the proudest traditions that Polish armed forces boast, to be later followed by many more.
On many occasions world-wide have Polish military proved their bravery, their heroism, their patriotism, their ability to fight for ‘your freedom and for ours’. This was also the case fairly recently, 11 years ago, far from Polish borders. Polish forces put up a heroic defence of a city-hall in one of cities and defended it in a lengthy combat, featuring not only bravery, exceptional heroism and persistence, but also demonstrating how well they were trained, without any bravado. Eventually none of them was killed in action whereas the massive loss of life was sustained on the enemy side.
You keep up this tradition: the tradition of the First Cadre Company, of the Polish Legions, of the fighters from Monte Cassino, from the Warsaw Rising and all fronts of World War II. All military, also ordinary soldiers, no matters where they would find themselves: be it on the Eastern , or on the Western front, they fought in the name of Poland and for Poland, and laid down their lives for her. Of that I am certain.
Soldiers stand ready to defend their Home Country any time and to serve it any time. This is a fact I do not doubt at all and I wish to express my profound respect to you and your predecessors. Also, I wish to express my deepest respect to your families, to your nears, who know how difficult your service is, and were frequently waiting a long time for their husbands, fathers, sons to return. And I wish to thank you for your service to Poland. I would like you to continue to serve her with heroism and dedication. I am convinced it will be the case.
Nowadays it is incumbent on Polish authorities to modernize the Polish army and to equip them with most advanced weapons, not only to make you capable of more effective fight but also to make you more secure, which is an obligation towards yourselves and towards the Republic of Poland. These are massive challenges for the nearest years to come, for we must have our own Polish strong army. The army capable anytime of putting up defence of our country. Obviously, we are members of the North Atlantic Alliance, and it is a good thing. It is good that we can rely on their forces. It would be desirable to obtain even more support but all things considered, as any other state which has its own ambitions, we should have a strong, effective, well-equipped army; as for heroic soldiers, we are not short of them.
A moment ago, Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence spoke about the plans to modernize the Polish army. And indeed, Mr Minister, I will cooperate with you in this respect, I have no doubts about it. We will discuss, we will talk to each other, and we will also take stock of what has been achieved so far and what is planned. I am confident that the Polish Army will be armed quickly and in concord, and this in spite of high outlays to be made. But Poland is worth it and today’s Poland requires it to be done. There is just one Polish Army, there are one armed forces, and there is just one Poland.
Men and women in uniforms, I wish to thank you very much for our today’s meeting. I wish to thank you for your excellent service. I convey my warmest greetings to you and to your colleagues. All the best and see you soon. Thank you.