Poland celebrates Armed Forces Day
President Andrzej Duda on Thursday attended the main National Armed Forces Day celebrations in Katowice, capital of south Poland's Silesia industrial basin.
The main event of the celebrations was a military parade of about 2.6 thousand troops and 180 military vehicles, including tanks, transporters, mobile cannon and missile launchers. Also on show were 60 aircraft, including F-16 fighters, transporter planes and helicopters. Polish-stationed US, British, Romanian and Croatian troops also participated in the parade.
The celebrations, usually held in Warsaw, were moved to Katowice in commemoration of the centenary of the First Silesian Uprising (1919).
In his address at the festivities, Andrzej Duda spoke of the 1919-1921 Silesian Uprisings in which Poles fought against the region's German population for its inclusion into Poland. Duda said that although the insurgents were not part of the Polish armed forces, they fought for the Polish cause, and were therefore "like Polish soldiers."
Quoting a well-known passage from Poland's national anthem, Andrzej Duda said the Silesian insurgents were driven by the idea that "what the foreign force has taken from us, we shall with sabre retrieve."
"I think that is what (...) the Silesian were thinking when, under German repressions, they took up arms to fight for (the region - PAP) to be Polish," President Duda said.
The president assured that the Polish government was determined to modernise the Polish army and raise defence spending, and thanked Poland's NATO allies for their military presence in the country.
Andrzej Duda also laid flowers at a memorial to the Silesian Uprisings.