In Australia, we celebrate Armistice Day on November 11th, marking the end of World War 2. For Poland that date is momentous for other reasons. That was the day Polish sovereignty was restored after the country had been divvied up for 123 years between the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. On November 11th, 1918 the Second Polish Republic was established, and the day is celebrated as Polish Independence Day. Of course that Independence was compromised again in 1939 by Nazi Germany, and after WW2 by Russian communist rule.
At the beginning of Poland’s history, its legendary founder Lech, looking for somewhere to settle, saw a white eagle in its nest. A ray of sun fell on its wings, so they appeared tipped with gold. He decided to settle there and placed the eagle on his emblem. He also named the place Gniezdno (currently Gniezno) from the Polish word gniazdo (“nest”). That’s one version of the story. In another version, the one told in the Museum of Polish Independence, it was the immense size of the eagle that caught Lech’s eye. The eagle was adopted as symbol of Poland in 1295.
At the Museum, an eagle greets you outside, and another one in the foyer. Upstairs, a whole gallery is devoted to the Eagle in many manifestations.
So it seems fitting to mark Independence Day with a grandeur of eagles.