About the Event
On November 15, 1989, Polish democracy and labor leader Lech Walesa became the second private foreign citizen ever to address a joint session of the United States Congress – preceded only by the Marquis de Lafayette. At the time, Walesa was the victorious leader of Solidarity, the mass movement for democracy and worker rights in Poland that was the catalyst for the peaceful democratic revolutions throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the USSR. Inspired by Walesa’s message of democratic solidarity, the Congress responded with a five-minute standing ovation and subsequently provided substantial support for the new democracies of the region.
Thirty years later, we were pleased to have the opportunity to honor President Walesa and to reflect on democratic achievements and challenges facing Poland and the region.