Clare and I arrived on Saturday Dec 12th at the Warsaw airport, where we were picked up by Ryszard Bartczak and Anna Mazurkiewicz. They escorted us to the Center of Foreign Missions Veterans where we were given a tour of the museum. There are 122 names of soldiers that have lost their lives on overseas missions which include the 66 that were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the ride to the Sheraton Hotel they took us to Old Town and we saw all the Christmas decorations in the city. On Monday we went to Krakow for four days then returned to the Sheraton in Warsaw.
On Sunday, Dec 20th we were met at the Sheraton by Lt. Col. Arkadiusz Sochacki our interpreter and his driver. We proceeded to the Veterans Museum where their Honor Guard was present and about 12 wreaths were laid at the military monument . About 250 family members and military and government officials were present.
Then we proceeded to drive to the Military University of Technology where we were introduced to Lt. Col. Leszek Stapien the director of the museum and Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz. We also met our Washington D.C. contact Karol Sobczyk. We were than seated in the auditorium with approximately 350 family members in attendance for the portrait presentation. The Defense Minister then presented the portraits to each family member. As the portrait was presented to the family member his picture was projected on a large Screen over the stage area with his name, rank, date and country where he was killed. After the presentation of all 66 portraits, a General was livestreamed in from Afghanistan and spoke for about 10 minutes.
Then the President of the Mothers Veterans Association, the Director of the Museum gave short presentations and then I gave mine along with Michel Reagans with an interpreter.
Next on the program was a concert by the Military Artistic Group for about 90 minutes. Very professional singers.
The entire group proceeded to a large hall for a buffet with four singers dressed in Christmas attire. We then took pictures with military generals and government officials. I also had a short interview with one of the local TV stations.
Monday morning we were picked up to attend a mass at the Military Church than to the museum for the official grand opening. Clare and I were asked to pull the red and white ribbon to officially open the museum. Many family members attended and we had an opportunity to speak to a few of them.
It was an extraordinary and emotional event in our lives that we will always remember are very proud to be a part of this historical event. A DVD and book are in the process of being produced.