The Mayoress of Overbetuwe: Mrs. E. Tuijnman
Yours Excellencies, dear Veterans, Ladies and Gentlemen,
A Jewish saying goes:
Forgetting is banishment, commemorating is liberating.
Forgetting is banishment.
Why did so many people banish General Sosabowski’s 1st Polish Independent Parachutist Brigade men after their brave battle here in Driel?
Whilst the Driel population saw the Polish effort with their very own eyes in the almost impossible fight surrounding Arnhem’s liberation.
This same population built a monument here on the square a year after we were liberated and baptised it as the “Sosabowski Square” soon afterwards.
Plus they commemorate “their” Polish heroes every year. This year for the 65th time.
Because they knew, they had seen and they never had a flicker of doubt.
Why did the authorities – both national and international – continue to deny what happened here and thereby do a great injustice to what actually did occur here during those September days in 1944?
The Driel residents didn’t understand this at all.
And what do you tell your children and grandchildren when it concerns justice and injustice.
We want to make sure our younger generations know the story.
Not to look back in anger, but to do justice to the many young men who lost their lives in the fight for our freedom.
To also want to bear some responsibility for this as a young person, to want to work on freedom and democracy.
Because this is unfortunately not something which happens as a matter of course.
I felt both sadness and joy when our Queen restored General Sosabowski and his men’s honour in 2006 by awarding the highest military honour. Sad because it happened so late, happy because the Polish men were finally given what they were so rightfully entitled to. A true recognition of their efforts.
I was also overjoyed by the support received from the British veterans, judging by the General’s monument. After all, they were also very much aware of the Polish efforts.
“We commemorate” and I would like to quote the Polish Minister President, Mr Tusk, from his speech in Gdansk on 1st September, “We commemorate because we are all too aware of the fact that those who forget, or who falsify history and have the power or will accept the power, will once again bring about misfortune. Just like seventy years ago”. End of quotation.
Recognition makes commemorating lighter, even with the sadness of all those we lost, which lives in our heart on a day like today.
It gives us the opportunity to look to the future and continue to work on our most precious possession in life: living in times of freedom.
This is very liberating.