Chairman foundation Driel-Polen: Mr. A.J.M. Baltussen
Panie i Panowie Ladies & Gentlemen Dames & Heren
On behalf of the Driel-Polen Foundation I would like to welcome you all to this commemoration, where we give special attention to the contribution of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade to the Battle of Arnhem – 66 years ago.
A special word of welcome to
The 9 Polish Veterans, who could make the way to Driel from their home in Great Britain, Canada, USA and the Netherlands
also to the widows of Polish veterans one of whom has come from Poland and two from the Netherlands
The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland His Excellency Mr. Stańczyk
Mr. Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Member of the European Parliament for Poland and Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament
The Ambassador of Great Britain and representatives from the United States of America and Canada
The Queen’s Commissioner of our province Mr. Cornielje
The Mayoress of this municipality Mrs. Tuijnman
The Commander of the Brig. Gen. S.F. Sosabowski’s 6 Airborne Brigade – Brigade General Knap
The representative of the Sosabowski family Mrs. Slawa Tomczyk – Sosabowska
George Cholewczynski, author of several books related to general Sosabowski and his Brigade
The representative of the British veterans Mr. Wilkinson
The Mayors of the partner municipalities of Overbetuwe in Germany as well as Poland
Mr. Wernard from Usingen in Germany and
Mrs. Wallraff from Zulpich in Germany
and from Boleszkowice in Poland Mr. Wozniak
All the British veterans present this afternoon
Last year, 16 Polish veterans came to attend the commemoration. Given their age, this is an unprecedented number. This year we have 9 veterans in attendance. Once again, this is a big number, especially if we take into account that only around 90 veterans from the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade are still alive today, and all of them are nearly 90 years of age or even older.
They returned to Driel back in 1945, to visit their fallen comrades and to behold the outcome of the heavy fighting in which they had been entangled. Ever since, several of these veterans have paid a visit to our town in September of each year.
The increasing interest of their compatriots and young people must do them good.
After the wreath-laying ceremony, a number of young people taking part in the Arnhem International Youth Conference will read a poem written by one of the soldiers from the Brigade in the years directly after the war. At the end of the poem, he says: “The older we get, the more we dream of a series of further commemorative days.”
These veterans can now witness how we commemorate them, as well as the huge interest there is in this. Given the participation and presence of young people, they can be convinced that the commemoration will not just stop. In the meantime, we hope that they will be able to be in our midst during these days for another few years to come.
In the context of the theme Education: ‘A weapon for peace’, around 90 young people have taken part in the Arnhem International Youth Conference in the past few days. Young people from 14 countries, including 23 young people from various parts of Poland. This conference should be given a more important place among the commemorations in this region.
Young people have been given a prominent place during the commemorations in Driel, ever since the first commemoration took place in 1946. Once again this year, we can count on the attendance of a youth choir made up of children from the three primary schools in Driel. They have been accompanied by music from the orchestra that is made up of peers from Krakow – Promyki Krakowa.
Right now, they will sing a Polish song for us entitled “Pienkna nasza Polska cała”, which means “Our beautiful Poland.”