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Thousands of Poles, representatives of the Polish community, and residents of Chicago participated in the annual Constitution Parade on Saturday, the largest celebration of the holiday outside of Poland, which has been taking place since 1891. The event, held under the slogan “Polish-American Partnership for Peace,” was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak and representatives of the US military and authorities.
Despite the cloudy and sometimes heavy rain, thousands of Polish Americans representing over 100 Polish-American organizations and Polish schools throughout the United States took to Columbus Drive in the heart of the metropolis. Dozens of colorful and white-and-red platforms paraded down one of Chicago’s main thoroughfares by Lake Michigan; folk music and dance groups in traditional costumes, representatives of the Polish Rifleman Brotherhood dressed in noble kontusze (traditional clothes), military vehicles, and vintage vehicles from the communist era were present.
After the parade, a “Concert of the Constitution” featuring Polish music was held in nearby Grant Park.
Representatives of the Polish authorities, led by Deputy Prime Minister Błaszczak, spoke from the podium. The letter from President Andrzej Duda and the First Lady was read by the head of the National Security Bureau, Jacek Siewiera. “The Chicago parade is an extremely important event with an impressive history that makes the hearts of all Poles beat stronger with emotion,” Siewiera said. “We have visited many countries here in Chicago, and every time we feel at home, in our Polish home,” he added. He also appreciated the support of the Polish community for Ukraine.
Minister Błaszczak mentioned his Friday meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who agreed to provide Poland with eight Apache attack helicopters.
“We are building a strong Polish Army, and thanks to this, Poland is safe. We warned against Russia’s aggressive policy. President Lech Kaczyński said in Georgia: +today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine, then the Baltic states, and then Poland+ will be attacked by Putin, who is trying to rebuild the Russian empire. But we will stop the construction of this empire, in cooperation with the United States and by building a strong Polish Army,” Błaszczak said.
Earlier, in an interview with PAP, he pointed to the role played by Polonia in Poland’s security and how it is currently involved in supporting Ukraine.
“Polonia has made a significant contribution to Poland’s efforts to join NATO, and it also deserves recognition now, as it supports our actions, the actions of the Polish authorities, whose goal is to strengthen the Polish Army, and it is in the interest of Poland, the United States, and the entire free world for Ukraine to be independent, not part of Russia,” Błaszczak told PAP.
Beside him, Vice Marshal of the Sejm Małgorzata Gosiewska, Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk, and Government Plenipotentiary for Polonia and Poles Abroad Jan Dzidziczak also arrived in Chicago.
Military accents were clearly present during Saturday’s event. The marshal of this year’s parade, which has been held for 132 years, was Colonel Andrew Adamczyk of the Illinois National Guard, who will soon take command of one of the units stationed at the Powidz base in Poland. The commander of the National Guard was honored with the title of “Friend of Polonia.”