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Romney’s Warsaw Speech

8:20 AM, Jul 31, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I believe it is critical to stand by those who have stood by America. Solidarity was a great movement that freed a nation. And it is with solidarity that America and Poland face the future.

Yesterday, I saw the memorial at Westerplatte and the gate at the Gdansk Shipyard, where Polish citizens stood with courage and determination against daunting odds. And today, on the eve of the 68th anniversary of this city's uprising against the Nazis, I will pay tribute at the monument to that historic struggle. Over 200,000 Poles were killed in those weeks, and this city was nearly destroyed. But your enduring spirit survived.

Free men and women everywhere, whether they have been here or not, already know this about Poland: In some desperate hours of the last century, your people were the witnesses to hope, led onward by strength of heart and faith in God. Not only by force of arms, but by the power of truth, in villages and parishes across this land, you shamed the oppressor and gave light to the darkness.

Time and again, history has recorded the ascent of liberty, propelled by souls that yearn for freedom and justice. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has noted that it is often one brave man or woman who says "no" to oppression, and in doing so, sparks a revolution of courage in hundreds, thousands or millions of others.

In 1955, in my country, Rosa Parks said "no" to a bus driver who told her to give up her seat to a white person, and in doing so, started a revolution of dignity and equality that continues to this day. Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia, was denied his business wares by a government functionary, and in protest committed suicide by self-immolation. With that act of defiance, the Arab Spring was born.

Nicolai Ceausescu stood before an audience of 200,000, recounting for them his supposed works on their behalf. One elderly woman shouted out what others only thought. "Liar," she said. Others echoed her, first hundreds, then thousands. And with the fall of Ceausescu days later, the entire nation had awoken and a people were freed.

And here, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul the Second, spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage. "Be not afraid" - those words changed the world.

I, and my fellow Americans, are inspired by the path of freedom tread by the people of Poland.

Long before modern times, of course, the Polish and American people were hardly strangers. The name "Pulaski" is honored to this day in America, and so is the memory of other Poles who joined in our fight for independence. Two years after our young republic gave the New World its first freely adopted written constitution. Poland did the same for the Old World, with a preamble that called liberty "dearer than life."

At every turn in our history, through wars and crises, through every change in the geopolitical map, we have met as friends and allies. That was true in America's Revolutionary War. It was true in the dark days of World War II. And it has been true in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has never been a moment when our peoples felt anything but mutual respect and good will - and that is not common in history.

Americans watched with astonishment and admiration, as an electrician led a peaceful protest against a brutal and oppressive regime.

"It has to be understood," as President Walesa has recently said, "that the solidarity movement philosophy was very simple. When you can't lift a weight, you ask someone else for help and to lift it with you."

Of course, among the millions of Poles who said "yes", there was one who has a unique and special place in our hearts: Pope John Paul the Second. When he first appeared on the balcony above Saint Peter's Square, a correspondent on the scene wrote to his editor with a first impression. This is not just a pope from Poland, he said, "This is a pope from Galilee."

In 1979, Pope John Paul the Second celebrated Mass with you in a square not too far from here. He reminded the world there would be no justice in Europe without an independent Poland, and he reminded the Polish people, long deprived of their independence, from where they drew their strength.

While greeting a crowd huddled along a fence, he met a little girl. He paused and asked her, "Where is Poland?" But the girl - caught off guard - couldn't answer. She laughed nervously until the great pope put his hand over her heart and said: "Poland is here."

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