With thousands of participants, the City of Bydgoszcz (Poland) celebrated the first NATO Day. On 14 October, the beautiful Bydgoszcz Mill Island turned into a military field. Local authorities, together with the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) and three other NATO units based in the City, invited citizens of Bydgoszcz to learn more about NATO. The open-air event was supported by the Polish Armed Forces as well as the Multinational Battle Group, coming to Poland under the framework of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence.
“We would like to start with a big “thank you” to citizens of Bydgoszcz for your great support and fantastic atmosphere all NATO soldiers experience in Bydgoszcz” – said Major General Wilhelm Grün, the JFTC Commander, speaking on behalf of the whole NATO community in Bydgoszcz, gathered around the JFTC, the 3rd NATO Signal Battalion, the NATO Military Police Centre of Excellence and the NATO Force Integration Unit.
“Four NATO units, four different tasks and responsibilities - we have a lot in common, though.” – added General Grün. “First - we all agree that Bydgoszcz was the right choice for our headquarters, and we feel here at home. (...) Additionally, all NATO units based in Bydgoszcz are at the heart of enhancing NATO’s ability to defend the Alliance and to assure freedom and security to its citizens. Please, remember, that giving us home and your support, you are a part of this important effort, too.”
The NATO Day was filled with presentation of NATO units in Bydgoszcz, exhibition of contemporary and historic military equipment, performances of various musical bands, including a concert of the Bydgoszcz Military Orchestra, “NATO Race" orienteering event, and many other attractions and games for both children and their parents. Additionally, teams representing military units, local Police and the City of Bydgoszcz competed in a very exciting Dragon Boats Race. The highlight of the day was an exhibition prepared by representatives of the American Army from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the British Army from the Light Dragoons Regiment. American soldiers presented different versions of the Stryker armoured vehicles, while soldiers from the British intelligence unit showed their light Coyote and Jackal reconnaissance vehicles.
The NATO Day was also a good opportunity to recognize winners of the 9th NATO Knowledge Competition for primary schools of Bydgoszcz. The Joint Force Training Centre has been a patron of the competition since its very beginning. This year was no different. Therefore, together with the Mayor of Bydgoszcz, Mr. Rafał Bruski, and the Headmistress of the Primary School No 38, Mrs. Hanna Rauchfleisch, General Grün, awarded six best participants of the rivalry.
Yet again, JFTC proved that the centre, together with its soldiers, was an integral part of the city’s community. “We are very happy that today we can celebrate the NATO Day in an open-air event with citizens of Bydgoszcz. This event allows us to show you better who we are and what we do. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for this initiative” – General Grün addressed the Mayor of Bydgoszcz. The latter announced, that this year’s NATO Day was only the beginning:
“We organized this event together with four NATO units located in Bydgoszcz. We all felt that an event underlining the international and military image of the City was missing in the local events’ calendar. – said Mr. Rafał Bruski, the Mayor of Bydgoszcz. “I believe that we will be able to continue this event also in the years to come”.
Photos: Robert Sawicki; Courtesy of the City Hall of Bydgoszcz
Video by Robert L. Kunzig
(click below to watch it on Facebook)