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Oct. 15, 2021 | Friday
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Polish soldiers honoured again more than 100 years after their sacrifice
Members of the 10th Battery 56 Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Polish organizations filtered into NOTL from across Canada and the United States on Sunday to pay homage to the Polish Blue Army.

The volunteer soldiers, also referred to as Haller’s Blue Army, are honoured on the second Sunday of June each year.

The pilgrimage, which began over a century ago in 1917, took dignitaries, organization representatives and residents to the small cemetery where 24 volunteer soldiers are buried, behind St. Vincent de Paul Church in Old Town.

The plot is considered soverign Polish soil, which Canada ceded to Poland so the fallen soldiers could remain buried in their motherland. 

Zofia Soja, president of the Canadian Polish Congress, Niagara district, said the celebration has remained essentially unchanged in the more than 100 years since its inception.

This year, Soja said more than 500 people were in attendance. The military gun salute was performed by the 10th Battery 56 Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery.

After participants gathered around the small cemetery to pay respects and lay wreaths, the group marched to the centotaph at the centre of Queen Street.

Those in attendance included people from Polish schools, scouts, veterans, legion members and town council members. In all, more than 30 Polish organizations were represented.

Soja has been planning the pilgrimage for the last six years. The event takes several months of planning and co-ordinating to ensure those travelling for the occasion can make it to the march, she said.