Saturday, April 17, 2010

Plane Crash: After Effects: The Memorial

I put off a long time writing about this for reasons I can't really explain.

I went to the Saturday memorial; Ogrod Saski was flooded with mourners and Plac Pilsudskiego was mostly taken up by official guests and the whole stage anyway. Scouts were everywhere, directing people; handing out water bottles from massive storage piles; later on, they help distribute communion. Ogrod Saski had a huge screen and speakers so the crowds could see the action. Warsaw banned the sale of alcohol until 6PM or something. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and it was one of the nicest days all week.
The crowd was somber and almost no one took pictures. The whole ceremony started out with the choir singing a baleful lament. Then came the listing of the names and titles of all those who had perished. There were speeches (I couldn't recognize who was speaking and I didn't understand what they had to say), plus a company commander ordering the troops about with a firing salute. Then came a Mass. Even the Polish Orthodox prelate was there with his funny hat and funny beard. There was an army of bishops with their funny miters and excellent getups.
I snagged one of the programs, which the scouts were handing out. In it was a selection from Kaczynski's speeches, a brief history of the Kaczynscy, and thoughts on Kaczynski from prominent leaders from around the globe. The very first blurb was from none other than the Pope, then Obama, Barroso—the President of the European Commission, Merkel, etc. One thing very noticeable about the order was that Sasakashvili was listed directly before Medvedev (a slight against Russia that I couldn't miss.)
The next day, I watched the funeral on TV, which was held in St. Mary's in Krakow. I was shocked at how much weight Jaroslaw had lost (he looked either terrible or in the best shape of his life—it depends on how you look at it.) There were more speeches and the walk down to the Wawel was very, very long. Then there was a blessing of the coffins in the Wawel Cathedral, and then they put them into the crypt. Apparently, Medvedev came for the funeral and left just as Saakashvili came for the blessing (perfectly timed.)

A scout distributing water.

The stage and some banners.

Giving communion.

Crowds in the Saxon Gardens.

Free water.

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