CHICAGO – April 30, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn joined members of Illinois’ Polish community to commemorate Polish Constitution Day and to honor the memory of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the other victims who died in a recent plane crash in western Russia.
Polish Constitution Day observes the 219th anniversary of the Polish Constitution, which was adopted on May 3, 1791. The Polish Constitution is the world’s second written constitution.
“Polish Constitution Day marks an historic and important occasion—the day when the government of Poland agreed in writing to honor the rights and will of the people,” said Governor Quinn. “President Kaczynski believed in the ideals of the Polish Constitution and in the people of Poland, so it is fitting and proper that we honor him on this historic anniversary.”
On April 10, President Kaczynski, his wife Maria, and senior members of the Polish government and military were killed in a tragic plane crash in western Russia. In recognition of their sacrifice, Governor Quinn called for a moment of silence during today’s ceremony.
He was joined at the event by: Zygmunt Matynia, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago; Frank Spula, President of the Polish National Alliance; Major General William L. Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard; servicemembers who personally worked with victims of the plane crash; and members of the Polish delegation.
Governor Quinn has hosted a celebration for Polish Constitution Day in Chicago’s James R.Thompson Center for many years. Approximately 1 million Polish-Americans live in the Chicago-area, the largest gathering of people of Polish heritage outside of Warsaw.
In 1788, the Polish Parliament began deliberating to create a government that would defend and honor the rights of its people. The constitution was then approved by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski on May 3, 1791. Although the Polish Constitution did not last due to occupations by Russia, Austria and Prussia, the Polish Constitution of 1791 is commemorated today because it represents justice and freedom.
The State of Illinois shares a longstanding partnership with the Republic of Poland under the auspices of the State Partnership Program. For example, the military forces of the Illinois National Guard and Poland have cooperated in numerous training events, exchange programs and training exercises.
Polish Constitution Day festivities will continue in Chicago on May 1 with a parade at 11:30 a.m. on Columbus Drive, followed by a festival at Navy Pier. For more information on Polish Constitution Day events, please visit www.May3parade.org.