Public Papers

Remarks at a Ceremony Marking the Return of the Remains of Ignacy Paderewski to Poland


Please be seated. This is a little much. But listen, I am so pleased to see so many distinguished Americans here and so many visitors here.

I first want to salute our Secretary, beautifully decked out for this occasion, but I have such confidence in Ed Derwinski and what he's doing for our country. I don't think there's anybody who is familiar with U.S.-Polish relations that does not credit Ed Derwinski for his commitment and his understanding. And I tell you, I've leaned on him for advice all along the way here. So Ed, we're delighted you're here.

Ambassador Dziewanowski's here. President Walesa's Chief of Staff is here, Mr. -- I've got to be sure I pronounce it right -- Ziolkowski. Where are you, sir? Would you please stand up? We're just delighted that you're with us. You all know the Ambassador sitting out here. But anyway, we know him, and we consider him a great friend of the United States as well as a wonderful advocate for Poland.

So, welcome, all. Today we begin a series of ceremonies that are fulfilling the dream of one of the great men of our time, Ignacy Jan Paderewski. And I'm so pleased to see some kin here with us today. It's most appropriate.

This outstanding musical artist and, I would add, visionary statesman died in exile in America when the clouds of war and oppression loomed darkest over his native Poland. And by direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Paderewski's remains were given a place of honor for temporary repose right across the river there at Arlington National Cemetery, temporary until Poland regained its freedom.

That day has come. Poland has thrown off the yoke of Soviet communism. The dream of Polish freedom and independence has really become a bright reality, and it's getting stronger every single day. Within a few days, the distinguished delegation here will escort Paderewski's remains home to Poland. On July 5th, and I'm really looking forward to this, Mr. Ambassador, Barbara and I will have the privilege of going back to Poland to attend the solemn requiem mass at St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw.

God gave Paderewski extraordinary talents, and he was generous in their use. He brought the beauty of classical music performances to hundreds of thousands of listeners around the globe. He shared his financial success with charities and with patriotic causes. He took a leading role in Poland's struggle for freedom. And indeed, more than anyone else, he was responsible for President Wilson's including Polish independence among his Fourteen Points for peace following the First World War. During the period of independence that followed, he put his talents for statesmanship into practice as Poland's Prime Minister. His life was truly a symphony.

The new birth of freedom in Poland, indeed in all of Europe, is in great part due to the perseverance of millions of people like yourselves here in the United States, people of the Polonia. Just as Paderewski had fought against dictatorship half a century earlier, people of Polish origin and culture in America played a critical role in razing the Iron Curtain and launching Europe into a new era of freedom and unity. We cannot name them all, but we should honor them just as we do such modern heroes as President Walesa and His Holiness Pope John Paul.

Barbara and I are looking forward to our return to Poland next week, to the warmth of that country, the warmth of its people. It will be one of the greatest honors of my Presidency to take part in the final rites for Ignacy Paderewski when, to paraphrase the stirring strain of the Polish anthem, he will be rejoined with the people of his nation.

As with my trip to Poland in July of 1989, we're making this visit also to demonstrate America's strong support for Poland's bold movement to democracy and free markets. It's going to be a different Poland from the country that I visited just 3 years ago. Alongside the great success of Poland's pioneering reforms are the hardships resulting from 40 years of Communist mismanagement. I want the Polish people to know that America stands resolutely with them in their heroic efforts today.

There is no way that I can adequately thank the many Polish Americans and others as well who have made this occasion possible. Your steadfast loyalty to America and to Poland is a great example to me as I conduct the affairs of this office in the office right behind us.

So may God bless you all. May God bless Poland and, of course, the United States of America.

Now turn the spotlight over here. Thank you all for coming.

Note: The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Kazimierz Dziewanowski, Polish Ambassador to the United States, and Janusz Ziolkowski, Polish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.