Day 33: War Talk

I made it to the Main Square right when the sirens blared.

Everything stopped.

People stopped walking.

People stopped talking.

Everyone turned towards the church where there were many, many Polish flags hanging.

If my friend Warren hadn’t sent me a message earlier, I might have panicked:

“FYI – sirens will ring at 5pm today for one minute to mark the anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Uprising. Should see traffic and people come to a stop.”

Good thing he let me know about this historical marker, or I might have thought there was a new uprising.

(Most) People stood still during the siren.

The sirens sounded. Long. Piercing.

Some people kept walking, likely not out of disrespect, but because Warren didn’t send them a private message on what was happening and how to respond.*

* Thanks Warren

Years ago I had friends visiting from England and they went out for a walk just before lunch. When they returned they were breathless. You could tell they had been running.

They probably saw a bear. Or a deer. Were they were spooked by a squirrel?

“Is it war?” One of my friends asked.

I wasn’t expecting that question. Is what war?

While they were walking along the road, they heard the siren from the local fire department ring.

Every day of the year the fire department sounded the alarm at noon to test the alarm system and make sure it was working.

To me it meant lunch time. To my visiting friends, who dove into the brush and hid from possible invaders, it meant war.

Once they got the story straight, they sat down to lunch a little miffed and suggested that the local fire department might ring bells to announce the middle of the day rather than sounding an alarm.

Note taken.

After the siren.

Many thousands of people came out for the Uprising remembrance in Old Town, close to where I was staying. There were flags and old men dressed in military uniforms and policemen carrying rifles.

A man stopped me after the siren ended.

“English?” He asked.


“What is this going on?”

I explained about the Warsaw Uprising and how this was the anniversary.

“What happened?”

I told him that in 1944 the Polish underground fought against the retreating Germans, who were running from the Soviets, who were on their way to take their turn ruling the small nation. The underground fighters fought hard against the Nazis for 63 days.

The Soviets held back their invasion, letting the Germans clean house before they moved in.

When the Germans won against the Polish uprising, before they left, they flattened Warsaw in retaliation.

The man told me that he was from Finland and proceeded to tell me about all of the weapons Finland buys from the USA and how many this and that they have stored away.

“Good to know.” I said politely. “Now I won’t have to worry about Finland going to war.”

He then told me several state secrets and mentioned that he also knew State secrets from the British armed forces where he once worked.

Why exactly was I listening to him?

Not sure.

I let him drone on for a bit, then tried to walk away.

He kept talking.

I know. State secrets and all might be interesting to some,

But I find that people who tell secrets to a stranger on a Main Square of a foreign country, probably don’t know much.

The proceedings moved into the church.

I walked away while he was in mid-sentence and walked into the church, which is the best way to escape a bore.

The proceedings had moved into the church and we were only to enter if we were there to pray.

This is the same church I paid to enter last week. I walked in. I can pray with my eyes open.

Beautiful ceremony. I didn’t understand a word of what was going on, but had the strong feeling that the church was blessing the country.

There were TV camera and AP reporters documenting this moment.

Many people here are afraid of war.

Many BIg cameras here to record the remembrance.

According to the news, Poland bought a bunch of new toys like 1,000 tanks and dozens of fighter jets from South Korea.

They are saying that these will replace the weapons on loan to the Ukraine.

But as friends report that they were walking along the Vistula River and saw fighter jets storming across the sky,

I am left to wonder.

Shopping with California. How do you buy coffee when you don't speak Polish?

Remember, the Ukraine is only 2 hours away. War is close. So is Covid.

Many people posed with the flags.
For Carmen. The top two candles on the left were lit under your suggestions. Hope you can feel the light!!!! (Hurry well.)

When I ordered a gluten-free meal, I wasn't expecting you to surround it with GLUTEN. Don't worry. I ate some ice-cream then came home and ate. Grrrrr.

Good night Main Square.





Thanks for reading.



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