There Were Giants in Those Days

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There are millions of heroes and heroines who helped bring about the downfall of Communism in Europe in the Twentieth Century, from those who acted in the full spotlight of History, to those who are known only to God and who were executed for their resistance and tossed into mass graves.  At the very top of the list History will record two names:  Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan.  The people of a free Poland remember them:

GDANSK, Poland (AP) — Polish officials unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, honoring two men widely credited in this Eastern European country with helping to topple communism 23 years ago.

The statue was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, in the presence of about 120 former Solidarity activists, many of whom were imprisoned in the 1980s for their roles in organizing or taking part in strikes against the communist regime.

The bronze statue, erected in the lush seaside President Ronald Reagan Park, is a slightly larger-than-life rendering of the two late leaders. It was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul’s second pontifical visit to the U.S.

The photographer who took the picture, Scott Stewart, expressed satisfaction that one of his pictures has helped immortalize “a wonderful moment in time between the two men.”

“In the news business we’re used to having a moment and then that moment being gone a day later. This is one image that should last for a good long time,” Stewart, who now teaches graphic design and photography at Greenville Technical College in South Carolina, said in a phone interview a day before the ceremony. “I’m happy that it’s been chosen as the seminal moment to represent the relationship of these two people to Poland.”

Reagan and John Paul shared a conviction that communism was a moral evil, not just a bad economic system. And Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that led the anti-communist struggle in Poland, has often paid homage to both men and told the AP in a recent interview that he deeply respected Reagan.

“Reagan should have a monument in every city,” Walesa said.

Go hear to read the rest.  Popes and Presidents come and go, but God gave us two outstanding ones when we most needed them.


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  1. I am waiting for the opportunity to purchase the miniature version. It will proudly be displayed at my workplace and, since “cultural diversity” is such a strongly-encouraged aspect of our environment, will be truly welcomed, I’m sure.

  2. Beautiful work, and surely a God-pleasing leader in Lech Walesa. Good reminder of why to keep faith in Him.
    This post title leads thought from those (not so long ago) days to wondering about these days of changes.

  3. I was a teenager when Karol Wojtyla became Pope (15) and when Ronald Reagan was elected President (17). I remember the dark days of martial law in Poland and the deep recession of 1981-82. We came out of the economic doldrums and Poland became a free nation.

    Providence put them in their positions and they were well suited for the goals they accomplished. I attribute the fall of Communism in Poland to the people of Poland who never gave up the struggle against the inhumane system forced on them by Stalin – who murdered countless Poles by his actions and inactions. The help received from the Catholic Church and the Reagan Administration was of critical importance in the Poles’ struggle for freedom.

    It was not the first time the Catholic Church assisted Poland. During the 123 years of partition, towards the end of which my paternal greatgrandparents left the Russian-controlled Warsaw for southwestern Pennsylvania, the Church helped to preserve the language, culture, historical record and the identity of Poland.

    I read some of the comments of the story on Yahoo. Yahoo comments usually make my blood pressure rise and make me lose hope in the future of humanity. When I was a child, I could not fathom that there were so many stupid people. The Internet has certainly created a flood of such stupidity. While there were the typical stupid comments, many were praiseworthy of Reagan and John Paul II.

    Reagan and John Paul II were giants in an age when the world needed such giants. they were not perfect, they were not free from making mistakes and errors, but they did the very best they could. We need giants like these men now.

    I never met either man but I miss them both.

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