President: 20 years ago a new day dawned and the people said “no” to communism
Mass at the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970
At noon, a holy mass commemorating the 20th anniversary of the election of 4th June 1989 took place by the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 at Solidarity Square in Gdańsk. Around 3 thousand people participated in the mass, including representatives of the Solidarity movement from all over the country.
The mass was organised with the help of NSZZ “Solidarność.” It was presided over by the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Józef Glemp, and the homily was delivered by the Archbishop of Gdańsk, Sławoj Leszek Głódź.
Lech Kaczyński, the Polish President, Jarosław Kaczyński, the chairman of Law and Justice, Jan Śniadek, the chairman of the Solidarity movement, Waldemar Pawlak, deputy prime minister, Paweł Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdańsk, and Jan Kozłowski, the marshal of the Pomeranian voivodeship all participated in the mass.
Lech Kaczyński participating in a rally of the Solidarity movement
“It has always been a trade union but it was also a great social and national movement,” the President spoke about the Solidarity movement during the speech he delivered at the rally.
“It contained the essence of Poland,” he added, “and it was a Poland constructed on the basis of the most essential values: truth, solidarity and independence.”
He remarked that the struggle for independence required blood to be spilt and the crosses standing there – as the President said – are a monument commemorating the people who made this sacrifice.
“Before the year 1980, there was the blood-stained year 1970 and the dramatic events in Poznań. There was the fight to defend the churches in Nowa Huta, Zielona Góra and other cities,” Lech Kaczyński enumerated.
He emphasized that Poland struggled against its oppressor to create, in 1980, a movement “that the world had not seen before,” an immense social and national movement.
The President also emphasized that 20 years ago a new day did indeed dawn – in an election that was not entirely democratic, the people said “no” to communism. The President believes that the election was the beginning of the road leading straight to complete independence.
The successes and failures of the last 20 years
Lech Kaczyński admitted that today, after 20 years, we can see that there have been both successes and failures. Successes – according to him – would include freedom, the independence of the country, “certain progress in terms of modernization,” and the education of millions of Poles. Failures, in his opinion, include the situation of the shipyard in Gdańsk and the “plague of unemployment.”
According to his words, the shipyard in Gdańsk “is not only a place where ships are built” but also a symbol of independent Poland. “It must not fall,” the President believes. “The shipyard is a monument,” he said, “and no self-respecting nation should knock down its own monuments and undermine its own foundations.” “The monument is already there and it should be left as it is,” he added.
The President described unemployment as a “plague” that “has consumed almost half of a generation and carried all possible misfortunes with it.”
“Two years ago it seemed that we have defeated this plague but it has returned now,” he said, “and Solidarity should actively counteract it.” “You have to fight and I am here by your side,” he added.
He emphasized that we must not allow the situation where there was 2 to 2.5 million unemployed to repeat.
The President remarked that having work means “less misfortune and more success.” “The country is for everyone, not only the rich. The Republic of Poland belongs to all of its citizens,” he said.
“Exercising democracy is through ballot boxes”
Lech Kaczyński encouraged people to vote in the elections to the European Parliament and to “perform an assessment.” He emphasized that only God can work miracles, politicians cannot do so. “Let us perform an assessment, an honest assessment, and, three days from now, we will be able to work a miracle – this is the truth,” the President appealed.
“But the most basic truth,” he added, “is the fact that we have to make use of the freedom that we won. We have to take advantage of the democracy - it may be eaten away by many diseases but we won it ourselves. We won it, not the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
The President also added that “exercising democracy is through ballot boxes.”
“Do exercise your right to vote and encourage others to do so as well,” he appealed.
Lech Kaczyński also wished members of NSZZ “Solidarność” that their union may become even stronger. According to his words, 4th June 1989, a date which may be seen as the beginning of independent Poland, was a day of triumph for the Solidarity movement.