It is difficult to express the feeling of sadness caused by the tragic loss of so many luminaries of Poland in the Smolensk plane crash of April 10th. What is heartening is the pride we all can feel at the way Poland, its government and its people are coping with the tragedy. As you read this issue of the Polish Weekly, you will find that there is no great upheaval, no military coup, no grab for power, and no report of widespread opportunism on the occasion of such a vacuum in the higher levels of government and social organizations. Direct your attention to the item on page 10: “Transitions, the unlikely triumph of Polish democracy,” which we have obtained permission to publish this week in our pages. The authors emphasize the importance of voluntary, peaceful transitions of power and the strength of institutions within the Polish government that have allowed the nation to continue functioning in the face of the Smolensk tragedy.

Another hopeful aspect of the repercussions of the plane crash is the apparent propensity to enhance the improvement in Polish – Russian relations. At several points in this issue’s content there are remarks on the irony of the fact that the Smolensk crash took the lives of some of the best of Poland’s leadership while they were en route to a ceremony to commemorate the Katyn massacre, which was another event involving the destruction of Polish leadership. The recent event was an accident while Katyn was a deliberate war crime, but the coincidence is eerie. The immediate reaction from Russia has been one of sympathy and empathy, and I can’t help but think that the consequences of the accident will do more for the possibility of better long term relations between the two countries than might have resulted if the Katyn commemoration ceremonies had taken place as planned without the fatal crash. Who knows?

As always, we must remember the tragic past, be it Katyn or the plane crash, but focus on the future, and work to make it a brighter future in honor of those who have given their lives, in one way or another.

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