BIAŁYSTOK, Poland — U.S. Army Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, joined multinational troops with NATO’s enhanced Forward Battle Group Poland for a tour of Polish cultural sites in Podlaskie Voivodeship in northeastern Poland Oct. 20-22, to learn about the history of the region and the country by greater extent.
The tour, sponsored by the Polish National Foundation (PNF), allowed NATO troops and Task Force Marne Soldiers to explore diverse cultural sites and monuments in northeastern Poland. In turn, the tour helped give troops a new perspective on their deployment to Poland and connect with the country where they currently serve.
Cezary Andrzej Jurkiewicz, PNF board member, spoke [in Polish] about the goal of the PNF tour.
“Our main idea is to show [Soldiers] the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, that was a multicultural, multinational country,” Jurkiewicz said. “To understand our history, based on all this multicultural and multi-ethnic diversity, would be helpful for [Soldiers] to understand our perspective towards our neighbors and ourselves.”
NATO troops visited a variety of sites throughout the province, ranging from memorials dedicated to Poles who died during World War II, to religious temples turned into museums showcasing centuries-old religious iconography. Troops also laid floral wreaths and candles at the memorials to pay their respects.
“We visited a lot of great places,” Capt. Michael Ohana, the chaplain for 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, said. “To me, I think those visits are very, very important… I think it’s very important in what we have to do here as NATO Battle Group Soldiers.”
Ohana said that the tour represented an invaluable opportunity for Task Force Marne Soldiers and their NATO Allies to develop a better understanding and appreciation of Polish culture and history and ultimately build stronger relationships with their Polish hosts.
He explained that Poland has struggled with hostility from its neighboring countries in decades prior, citing invasions by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II, or the continued exploitation and deportation of Poles under communist Russia’s thumb in the post-war years.
“[Soldiers] can now have an understanding after visiting the museums, and then being exposed to some of the struggles the Polish people have had in the past,” Ohana said. “I think it’s a very good thing that we get to see those monuments.”
“It was a good cultural experience for me and all the Soldiers that went on this trip,” Staff Sgt. Miguel Pioangel, a tank commander with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, said. “It enlightened us and showed us the way this country used to be, and how it came to be.”
Pioangel likened Poland’s remembrance of history with that of the United States, he said. “We learned they have similarities to us, where we still remember our heroes, and we still try to fight for freedom, and they fight for their freedom.”
Pioangel added the experience overall helped to broaden Soldiers’ understanding of Polish culture, whether it has been through a deep-dive of the country’s history at a museum or through experiencing Poland’s diverse cuisines.
“Once I read a very wise sentence, ‘the only thing you can actually share with other people is what you have,’” Jurkiewicz said. “And what do we have the best? Our history.”
|Date Posted:||10.25.2023 02:52|
This work, Task Force Marne, NATO allies tour northeastern Poland’s cultural sites, by SGT Cesar Salazar Jr., identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.