Made it to Warsaw on Saturday morning, one day late due to a delay which caused a missed connection, and NO luggage. No excuse not to carry on ... Our much anticipated dinner Saturday evening with Minister Anna Maria Anders was everything I hoped for. Great atmosphere, wonderful food and wine, interesting discussion in topics ranging from her father's army to world politics to her being named Poland's new Ambassador to Italy, which means I'll have to refer to her in public as 'Her Excellency'. And of course the highlight was presentation of my father's compass to her. He was so excited, couldn't wait to give it to her... we barely sat down:
Celebration of two Polish heroes
Sunday, May 12 was a big day in Poland. And for me, the first May 12 without my mother Iris who left us in June. All across Poland celebrations took place to honor two Polish heroes who died on the same day of my mother's (and Anna Maria's mother's) birthdays. Marshall Jozef Pilsudski and General Wladyslaw Anders will be forever memorialized in Poland. Warsaw was the center of these celebrations, and it began for us in style, as Anna Maria's driver picked us up at our hotel to drive us to the magnificent Field Cathedral of the Polish Army, where a special Mass, presided by the local bishop, was celebrated. Tourists flocked outside as military brass and pomp echoed inside the Cathedral.
From there we joined a group of Monte Cassino veterans and guests and were driven to a spacious square which houses both the tomb of the unknown soldier and a monument to Jozef Pildsudski. In moving ceremonies, wreaths were placed to honor the many brave soldiers who lost their lives in battle at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and to honor their beloved Marshall who was the father of :Poland's independence in 1911 at the Pilsudski monument. We were also greeted by family members who drove three hours from Bydgoszcz to meet us.
The day's celebrations ended at a park which houses a monument to General Anders and the Poles victorious battle at Monte Cassino. A number of moving and informative speeches were made to both the recognize and educate about this historic battle. A military band played numerous songs, including the historic 'Red Poppies on Monte Cassino' which memorializes the battles. To my delight, all speeches were translated into English. Anna Maria's speech was not only impressive but quite moving. She mentioned how proud her father would be if he knew that she was now giving this speech in a free Poland as a member of the Polish Government. Hers was the only speech that did not require a translator as she repeated her speech in English. Her secretary told me the speech was repeated perfectly identical, and done without notes. Yes I am proud of her.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) my cousin Michal will arrive by train from Krakow to join us for a meeting he arranged with a Warsaw Press company. If all goes well, they will translate and sell my book here in Poland. He is also kind enough to bring a few sundry items with him as our luggage still has not arrived. Then we leave Wednesday on a military plane to Rome for more ceremonies commemorating the 75 year anniversary of the historic Battle of Monte Cassino. So I'll have much more to share in the coming days.
Author - Andrew Bajda
Since publication of my book in December of 2016, so many amazing things have happened on both a personal and professional level. As the journey continues to evolve, I'll update my travel adventures on this blog, and invite you to join me along the way.