Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of a unanimously-passed resolution expressing condolences to the people of Poland mourning the loss of President Lech Kaczynski and the 95 others who died in the tragic plane crash on Saturday. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank Mr. Delahunt and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen for giving us this opportunity to come to the floor to express our sympathy to the people of Poland.
“Our country is blessed with many Polish Americans. It is a blessing to our country. They are mourning this loss and all Americans join them. And today, Congress officially joins in that mourning.
“The United States and indeed the entire world mourn the loss of President Lech Kaczynski and the First Lady Maria Kaczynski, and all who perished in last weekend's tragic crash.
“The United States stands with our friend and ally and people of Poland as they grieve the loss of their President and First Lady, the chiefs of the Army and Navy, the President of the National Bank, the Deputy Foreign Minister, and dozens of other cabinet officials and members of Parliament.
“The scope of this tragedy is indescribable. The pain of the loss is unimaginable. And our thoughts and prayers rest with the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims. Their loss strikes a blow to the hearts of Polish citizens, all Polish Americans--my niece is a Polish American--and all who believe in a future of peace and prosperity for Poland and for every nation.
“I would like to talk about the President. Few leaders have proven greater champions of progress and human dignity than President Kaczynski. He was a true advocate of liberty for Poland, for Poland's families, workers and citizens. His life was defined by a long struggle for freedom and by the ultimate victory of democracy and human rights.
“As a leader in the Solidarity movement, he helped turn the tides of history against tyranny and oppression of communist rule. As Mayor of Warsaw and as President of Poland, he worked to make the promise of more just future a reality for the Polish nation.
“Together with so many who lost their lives in the tragedy, President Kaczynski sought to rebuild Poland, to make his country safer and more secure, and to write a new chapter for future generations.
“Again, as I say, we have been blessed in our country with a strong Polish American community. And I know all of them join us in this resolution which remembers the lives lost in this horrible tragedy, the President, so many Polish military and political leaders past and present, and distinguished citizens.
“It recalls the life of Poland's final President in exile. He led the charge to close the doors of political oppression and open an age of democratic freedom.
“This resolution honors the life of the former dock worker, whose actions ignited the Solidarity movement that changed the course of Polish history.
“The resolution reminds us of the Polish American artist from Chicago, who just finished a memorial to the victims of the Katyn massacre, where his own father had perished.
“The United States Congress joins Poland and countries across the globe in mourning the death of such extraordinary leaders.
“In the words of this resolution, we express ‘strong and continued solidarity with the people of Poland and all persons of Polish descent' and we are so blessed that the dean of our delegation and the Congress, Mr. Dingell, shares that honor, brings luster to his Polish heritage, as well as other Members of our Congress as well. The resolution offers our ‘unwavering support for the Polish government as it works to overcome the loss of many key public officials.'
“Let us strive to live up to their legacy of hope and a brighter future for Poland, Europe, and all of humanity.
“This afternoon, I had the privilege of joining Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Congressman Mike Quigley, who was there before us, and other Members who have gone to the Polish Embassy to sign the book of condolences. We are very proud that in doing so, we join President Barack Obama who had earlier, a few days ago, signed that book.
“And I know it is a comfort to the people of Poland, Ambassador Kupiecki, who may be with us here or shortly will join us in the gallery, who told us how the people of Poland were so pleased and comforted by the fact that President Obama would be attending the funeral in Poland on Sunday. He will bring with him all the sympathy of the American people and all of the prayers to help mourn the loss that the people have suffered.
“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman and Madam Ros-Lehtinen, for giving us the opportunity to share our grief over this terrible loss.”