Two videos of the act in Polish language and one of this ceremony in Spanish

Apel Pamięci: The Ceremony of the Polish Army to Honor Its Fallen for the Homeland

Of the military ceremonies, the most emotional are those dedicated to honoring those who gave their lives for the Fatherland. Today I show you how they celebrate these events in Poland.

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In the Polish Army, the tribute to the fallen is called “Apel Pamięci Oręża Polskiego”, a call to the memory of the Polish Armed Forces, in its full name, although it is often referred to as “Apel Pamięci” (Appeal to Memory) or “Apel Poległych” (Appeal to the Fallen). It is a very solemn act, in which without any detour, the fallen are summoned to the homage. Some variants are collected on the Polish Army website, but here I will show what this ceremony basically consists of in most cases.

The act begins with four calls from the official who runs the ceremony:

  1. he first is for veterans and combatants: “Kombatanci i weterani walk o niepodległość Rzeczypospolitej!” (Combatants and veterans in the struggle for the independence of the Republic!)
  2. The second is to the residents of the place: “Mieszkańcy”, followed by the place in question, for example: “Mieszkańcy ziemi kociewskiej stajemy do apelu przy grobach masowych w lesie!” (The inhabitants of the Kociewie land are called to the sass graves in the forest!).
  3. The third appeal is to the soldiers: “Żołnierze Wojska Polskiego!” (Soldiers of the Polish Army!).
  4. And the fourth is to all Poles: “Rodacy!” (Compatriots!).

Then, the presiding officer explains the motivation of the event and begins to summon the fallen, quoting them collectively or with first and last names. During the appointments to the fallen pauses are made, during which the officer shouts: Stańcie do Apelu! (Stand for the Appeal!), to which the soldiers respond: “Chwała bohaterom!” (Glory to the heroes!). In the final appeal, it is the official who shouts “Chwała bohaterom!”, Receiving from the soldiers this answer: Cześć ich pamięci! (Honor your memory!).

In the following video we can see this ceremony done in the Military Cemetery of Powązki, in Warsaw, in August 2016:

The salvos of the Polish Army in honor of the fallen also differ from those of other armies. They call them “Salwy Honorowe” (Honor Salvos), and their particularity is that the shots are done raising the weapon towards the sky, leaning on the right shoulder, as you can see in this video of the 4th Anti-Air Regiment:

I have left the best video for the final: a Spanish version of this ceremony, made by the reenactors of the Poland First to Fight Historical-Cultural Association in the event “Revive the History of Cinema” held in Murcia, Spain, in 2015. The drill commands and ritual cries are in Polish, but the rest of the tribute is in Spanish:

If you are interested in the history of Poland and if you want to discover that part of World War II that is often not counted, I recommend you to subscribe the Youtube channel of Poland First to Fight and its Facebook page.

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