Illinois National Guard, Illinois Governor Honor Polish Constitution Day


CHICAGO, IL (05/07/2012)(readMedia)– Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Zygmunt Matynia, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, the Illinois National Guard and Polish civic organizations honored Polish Constitution Day celebrations at the James R. Thompson Center and Daley Plaza in Chicago May 4 and 5.


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks at the James R. Thompson Center May 4 to honor Polish Constitution Day. The Illinois National Guard and the Consul General of the Republic of Poland were also there.

„I think it is important for the people of Illinois, almost 13 million people, to join together with our fellow patriots in Poland and celebrate this very important date in world history,” said Quinn May 4 at a press conference at the Thompson Center. „This is a celebration. Both our nations believe in freedom and the written constitution.”


Consul General Zygmunt Matynia (left) pictured with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Maj. Gen. William Enyart after receiving the Illinois Medal of Merit during the Polish Constitution Day May 4.

Celebrated May 3, Constitution Day is a celebration of Poland’s most important civil holiday – the signing of Europe’s first codified national constitution May 3, 1791. Poland’s constitution is the second oldest in the world, after the United States Constitution signed in 1781.

Constitution „We celebrate the constitution because it symbolizes the spiritual and moral renaissance of the Polish society after a long period of disorder,” said Matynia. „The fathers of the Polish constitution saw the government as a tool of service for the common good. They truly believed that government must serve not in the interest of the few, but in the interest of the entire nation.”

The city of Chicago, the Illinois National Guard and Polish civic leaders honored Polish Constitution Day with a ceremonial flag rising at Daley Plaza May 5.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Illinois National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Poland. The Illinois National Guard has maintained a state partnership with Poland since 1993 and is one of the few National Guard States to co-deploy with a state partner.

Servicemembers from the Illinois National Guard’s Bilateral Embedded Support Team-A9 (BEST-A9) are serving in Afghanistan with Polish Task Force White Eagle in Ghazni province as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.

„The Illinois National Guard’s partnership with Poland is the largest and second oldest partnership program in the National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart of Belleville, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. „We must continue to develop this partnership and serve together as we serve our individual nations and continue to move toward world peace.”

At the Polish Constitution Day Ceremony, Matynia was also presented the Illinois Military Medal of Merit by Enyart. Instituted in May 1978, the Illinois Military Medal is presented to those who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the state of Illinois.

„As the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, it is my duty to confirm medals to servicemembers and occasionally to civilians who have earned them through their merit and good work. Consul General Matynia has indeed earned this medal,” Enyart said. „His commitment to excellence and dedication to the State Partnership Program reflects great credit upon himself, the Polish Consulate in Chicago and the Republic of Poland.”

As part of the festivities, the city of Chicago honored the Polish holiday with a ceremonial flag rising at Daley Plaza May 5. The Illinois Army National Guard’s 144th Army Band played ceremonial music, while the Chicago-based 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Color Guard posted both countries’ colors.

„What a fantastic day it is to be here to represent the partnership between the Illinois National Guard and the nation of Poland.” said Brig. Gen. James W. Schroeder, commander of the Illinois Air National Guard. „The energy and enormity of today’s crowd is impressive – even despite the misty, overcast day.”


(Center) Brig. Gen. James W. Schroeder, former Polish Soldiers and Polish civic leaders watch the 121st Polish Constitution Day Parade in Grant Park May 5, 2012.

The city also hosted the 121st Polish Constitution Day Parade in Grant Park May 5. Established in 1892, the Chicago parade is the largest Polish parade outside of Poland. More than 30 floats and 90 organizations participated in the parade as thousands of spectators waving Polish and American flags lined Columbus Drive in front of the historic Buckingham Fountain.

For additional photos of the event please visit the Illinois National Guard Facebook page at