Speech during the unveiling of Major General Sosabowski’s Bust
Council Member of the Municipality of Overbetuwe and initiator Cécile de Boer
Friday 18th September 2020
Dear guests, attendees, dear Driel residents,
Today is a special day; this is a very special moment, and an honour, to be able to unveil the bust of Major General Sosabowski on behalf of the entire Overbetuwe municipal council on this sunny afternoon here in Driel.
Before I proceed to the moment of unveiling (quite an exciting moment for me too, as I obviously don’t get to practice this first), I would like to give you a little bit of background to how this came about.
I was seated next to the artist Martin Abspoel during a very rainy commemoration service at the Sosabowski square in September 2018, as a brand new Overbetuwe council member and we got talking. Martin told me he had been present during the unveiling of Major General Sosabowski’s bust in Warsaw the previous year in 2017. The ceremony in Warsaw had been very impressive. Martin told me he had been thinking about creating a bust of Major General Sosabowski since 2004 in order for him to be honoured and he felt incredibly happy and proud that he had eventually managed to realise this and that the statue had been very ceremoniously unveiled in Warsaw.
He also told me he still had the original wax figure of the bust in his studio and that he had exhibited a clay statue of Major General Sosabowski in the church next to Driel’s centre square more than 10 years ago. The Polish veterans had been moved when they entered the church after the ceremony and saw the clay statue. They told Martin what the Major General had meant to them and what an incredibly brave man he had been.
Martin’s story gave me the idea of submitting a proposal to the municipal council to place a bust of the Major General in Driel too:
- to allow us to also visualise Commemorating, Realising and Experiencing for the younger generations,
- to thank Major General Sosabowski and the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade for their extraordinary efforts,
- to continue telling stories about the Second World War and
- to never stop celebrating our freedom!
When I spoke to Major General Sosabowski’s grandson last year during the extraordinary commemoration services in Driel near the river Rhine, he was pleasantly surprised to learn that Overbetuwe’s municipal council had passed an amendment in July 2019 and had decided to also place a bust of his grandfather here in Driel. It goes without saying both he and his family wanted to be present here today, but this has unfortunately not been possible due to the corona pandemic. We hope to be able to place flowers here at the bust together with them next year.
I hope many young people will follow the “Liberation Route”, visit the bust in Driel and realise we owe our freedom to incredibly courageous people like Major General Sosabowski.
“All men are brothers”, as Cora Baltussen said in her story in the documentary which you will shortly be able to watch in the church. We need to keep telling that story and continue passing on the freedom.