Opening Statement by the Chairman of Stichting Driel-Polen
Mr A.J.M. Baltussen a the 70th Commemoration of the contribution of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade to Market Garden

Driel, 20 September 2014
Your Excellency Mr. Komorowski, President of Poland
Dear Veterans,
Dear Polish Veterans and widows of Polish veterans from Poland, Canada and the Netherlands
Your Excellencies  Minister of Defence  Mrs. Hennis Plasschaert
Minister of State Mr. Francois
Undersecretaries of State from Poland
Ambassadors from Poland, Canada, USA, UK and the Netherlands in Poland
Generals from Poland, USA, UK and the Netherlands
Chamberlain in the province of Gelderland Jonkheer De Wijkerslooth de Weerdesteyn
The King’s Commissioner of our province Mr. Cornielje
The Burgomaster of this municipality Mr. Van Asseldonk
Te Commander of the Brig. Gen. S.F. Sosabowski’s 6 Airborne Brigade  –  Brigade General Joks
Members of the Sosabowski family
The representative of the British veterans Staff Sgt. Laurie Weeden
The Burgomasters of the partner municipalities of Overbetuwe
All the British veterans present this afternoon

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 Market Garden – 70 years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls
We would also like to extend a very warm welcome to you on this afternoon when we are devoting our attention to the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade’s contribution to Market Garden, 70 years ago.
Girls and boys of the choir. It’s fantastic that you are all gathered here this afternoon with such a large group. It’s certainly also a very special occasion for you to all be part of.

Your Majesty, Your Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

“Freedom is something you agree on” was the theme during this year’s liberation commemorations in May. Definitely a theme to remember and to continue to work on together!!
The subtitle we have opted for this year is reciprocity. This means having respect for one another. This is an important feature of a free society. We are very lucky to be able to take this for granted in our country.
However, you will read and see plenty on television and the internet to know this definitely isn’t a matter of course everywhere in the world.

Boys and girls
The Polish veterans are seated in the section next to you. In previous years I have visited you at school to tell you a little bit about the history and about how we make sure we spend time remembering what happened. You may remember that I told you how Poland became occupied in 1939 and how this resulted in many families being forced to leave Poland for the far north of Russia. There certainly was no free society for those people back then.

I told you about the incredibly long journeys many of these Polish veterans had to embark on, in order to eventually be dropped here near Driel in September 1944. In many cases they were no longer able to go back to their country and families after the war.
Try to spend some time during this memorial service thinking about how this would make you feel and what living in a free society means to all of you.
We all – and especially these veterans – think it’s wonderful that you are going to be singing 2 songs in Polish this afternoon. It’s certainly also very special that you’ll be accompanied by your peers from Poland.

Good luck!!

Your Majesty, Your Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,
The young people from the Airborne International Youth Conference have been reciting a poem for the last few years and we will be assisted by one of these young people for the reading of the Polish texts. We are very grateful to them for that. Dorota Korzyk will be reading the Polish texts this year.