Today the flags in Warsaw are flying again, the White and Red is once again everywhere; on lampposts, on public transport, on official buildings and – on each and every house! Well not quite, I am exaggerating, the number of flags are significantly fewer than at Warsaw Uprising Day a fortnight ago. But still, a good many of yesterdays empty flagholders today have a stick in them, a stick holding the Polish flag.

Yes, nationalism and history are very much alive in Poland, an old/young country which rarely misses an opportunity to commemorate a major event in its struggle for independence from its neighbouring occupants, be it Soviet/Russia or Nazi-Germany.

Today, August 15th, is the day of the Polish army (Dzień Wojska Polskiego), celebrating the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, sometimes referred to as the Miracle at the Vistula (Cud nad Wisłą). The decisive battle of the Polish–Soviet War after the ending of World War I, where the Polish forces commanded by Jozef Piłsudski unexpectedly defeated the Bolshevik Army at the Vistula River, which led to Poland’s independence to be saved (until WW II).

The anniversary celebrations were concentrated to Warsaw’s largest square, Piłsudski Square, the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Judging by the level of security arrangements I assume that all of official Poland was present, including the nation’s president Bronisław Komorowski, who made the final speech (in Polish of course which I don’t understand, but I did pick up the word Smolensk, the site of last year’s air crash, which has had such lingering and divisive consequences in Poland’s (domestic) politics).

Anyway, an hour and half long solemnly ceremony with batteries drill, parading of the diverse military branches, all crowned by the firing of a canon salute! Not that I actually saw that much of the goings on but occasionally I caught a glimpse above the many rows of backs standing in front of me. And then there were lots of military gear on display for the young and older to play war with.

I noticed that the degree of public flag-waving was far less than at Warsaw Uprising Day. Perhaps due to that the Battle of Warsaw is more of an ancient historical event than an experience that is still alive in people’s minds?

15 August isn’t only a holiday of a war miracle it’s also the holy day for a religious miracle. The Army Day shares this public holiday with The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Wniebowzięcie Najświętszej Maryi Panny) which has many Poles attend mass. Outside the churches the traditional sheaves are on sale. Yes, Poland is a very catholic nation.


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