Poland’s president joins Polish Americans for Pulaski Day parade in New York

Andrzej Duda has become Poland’s first sitting president to take part in the Pulaski Day Parade, an annual celebration by Polish Americans in New York City. He thanked the Polish diaspora for supporting Poland but also faced a protest from one group of Polish Americans.

Describing it as a “great honour” to join the parade – which has been held annually since 1937 – Duda told the crowd that he “thanks you from the bottom of my heart for supporting your homeland, for being loyal citizens of the United States and at the same time not forgetting your Polish roots”.

The president noted that, amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, Poland faces a particularly challenging period. “We must defend ourselves, we must survive as a free, sovereign and independent state,” he said. “That is why we really need your support today.”

Piątą Aleją na Manhattanie w Nowym Jorku przechodzi 86. #ParadaPułaskiego. Odbywa się pod hasłem „Świętując Polskę i USA broniące wolności”. pic.twitter.com/vMjxINOMck

— Kancelaria Prezydenta (@prezydentpl) October 1, 2023

“I am here to continue to ask you for support, to not forget about Poland, to keep lobbying the American authorities so that Poland is supported, so that the alliance between Poland and the United States is strengthened,” he added.

The president joined participants in dancing the polonaise, a traditional Polish dance. However, as he did so a group of protesters standing alongside the parade chanted and held signs saying, in Polish, “Free Poland”, “Constitution” and “Democracy”.

Such slogans are associated with opposition to Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, to which Duda belonged before becoming president. Some signs said “I Love Tusk” and “I’m voting for Tusk”, referring to the main opposition leader who is seeking to unseat PiS at elections in two weeks.

Chyba było lepiej jednak zostać w Warszawie 🤔🤭🤭😂😂 pic.twitter.com/VDV7aPFxD7

— Artur (@ArturooArtur) October 1, 2023

This year’s Pulaski parade, which was expected to draw around 100,000 participants from New York and surrounding areas, was held under the title “Celebrating Poland and America defending freedom”.

“In this city of immigrants, we welcome and are grateful to the Polish nation for what they did for Ukrainian refugees, for accepting them into their homes and hearts,” said auxiliary bishop for New York Edmund Whalen, quoted by RMF24. “You have shown us a great example…of what it means to be Catholic.”

Poland’s culture minister, Piotr Gliński, who was the grand marshal of this year’s parade, said that the man it was named after – Polish General Kazimierz Pułaski, who fought for both Polish and American independence – is the “embodiment” of the famous Polish saying “for your freedom and ours”.

Poland has the most positive view of the US among 23 countries surveyed by @pewresearch

93% of Poles hold a favourable view of the US, 85% say it contributes to peace and stability, 83% have confidence in Biden – each the highest figure found in the study https://t.co/RRc2Se3ufS

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 29, 2023

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Main image credit: Jakub Szymczyk/KPRP

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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