Remembrance day of soldiers, killed and wounded in Iraq, Afghanistan and other peace missions
The day of October the 14th was celebrated in Wazi-Khwa base in unusually solemn way.
The day of October the 14th - Remembrance Day of soldiers, killed and wounded in Iraq, Afghanistan and other peace missions - was celebrated in Wazi-Khwa base in unusually solemn way.
It coincided with transfer of duties from the 1st to the 2nd rotation of Polish Military Contingent in Afghanistan (PMC-A). Soldiers of both rotations participated, at the various levels, in the celebration; on one hand - reviewing together their difficult service, on the other hand - remembering their killed and wounded colleagues with whom some of them have served in various places of the world.
In the morning of the Day there was the 1st Marathon Race in Afghanistan, under the patronage of the 8th Poznań Marathon. In this untypical way a group of soldiers-runners has decided to pay tribute to the killed in action. It was Father Maj. Henryk KACZMAREK, a chaplain of Wazi-Khwa base, who had come with the idea of the race and who also participated in the race. In the group of 17 runners there was a six-person team of American soldiers, which included one woman.
The Marathon, taking place at 2300 meters above sea level, started at 0800 hours, local time. The participants had to endure 35 loops, 1215 meters each, altogether 42,195 meters. The route was technically difficult due to very uneven and sandy terrain.
The race winner, WO Mariusz SZOSTAK, reached the finish line with the time of 03:49:30 and the last participant with the 07:01:17 time. Despite the great challenge 16 runners have happily finished the race. The organizers of the 8th Poznań Marathon should be given the words of thanks for their approval and patronage over the race.
A focal point of the Remembrance Day was a mass celebrated in intent of all soldiers killed in missions to Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, where Polish soldiers had served. Many Wazi-Khwa soldiers participated in the mass. They came to pray for those who had walked the same road but had not been given a chance to return home and who had given their life away while serving the Fatherland.
The mass started with the "Mother's tears", a musical piece that had been played from the tower of Mariacki Church in Kraków, instead of the traditional bugle-call "Hejnał", on the funeral day of John Paul II. After the fires of remembrance have been lit the commander of Battle Team "C" recited the poem "Testament of the Fallen, 1942" by Ryszard Kiersnowski:
We have not departed for fanfares to be sounded.
We've no need of glory in memorial orations.
Not to save the old world did we willingly perish,
Or that falsehood might blossom from dead generations.
We've no need to be subject of florid pronouncements,
Or a point of great value for furious dispute.
And let no man presume to reap his compensation
Through all that is holy in a soldier's last salute.
Beneath the turf of green there are no class distinctions,
No longer social cleavage can hope to wound our pride.
Respect this equal spirit. When blackouts are lifted,
Our ghosts together fallen let no one dare divide.
Next, the names of 71 soldiers of Polish Armed Forces were read - who had died serving in Polish military contingents of peace forces of international organizations. A sound of gong was reminding us that they were no longer with us but we wanted to recall their memory, the memory of our comrades in arms. The name, date of death and the service location of each fallen soldiers was being displayed on a screen - simultaneously with the reading of his name.
After the mass, Maj. Olgierd CIEŚLA, a commander of Battle Team "C", thanked his soldiers for their excellent and committed service and wished them safe and happy return home. Each soldier received a commemorative token from the commander.
These are the last days of service on Afghani soil for the soldiers from Wazi-Khwa base. In a short period of time they have achieved a lot. They have shown their true colors - gaining respect and appreciation in the eyes of local population. Today the uniform of Polish soldier and the white-red flag are not something unknown to Afghans from Wazi-Khwa and neighboring districts, who know that they can always count on help of Polish soldiers. The first step in the "fight for hearts and minds" has been already made. Its continuation is a task for soldiers of the 2nd rotation of the Battle team "C" of PMC-A. We wish them the soldier's luck.
Author: Battle Team "C"
Photos: Archive of Battle team C
Translated by MZ