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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » December 3, 2008
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Letter to Lech Wałęsa
December 3, 2008   
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Writing to Lech Wałęsa 25 years after he received the Nobel Peace Prize everybody will in a way be writing about themselves-because every Pole has Lech Wałęsa inside them. You have become part of our history, and thus part of each and every one of us. I would even say that everyone has their own Lech Wałęsa. Or, taking it even further, everyone has the Lech Wałęsa they deserve.

I met you at the end of August 1980, when you were battling with Mieczysław Jagielski behind a wall of glass in the aquarium-like BHP Room of the Gdańsk Shipyard. It came as a shock to me: Surrounded by feverish and determined people, there sat a cold and tough young man with the look of a crafty old devil, striking at the most crucial places of the system with no inhibitions and no qualms at all. You were aware of the time and place, and the existence of a thin red line the crossing of which could have dramatic consequences. The only thing was that you were the one who drew that red line-for people on both sides of the barricade. And you had the vision that perhaps it was-or perhaps it would be in the future-one and the same side.

I managed to exchange a few words with you at the time. After that there were interviews and many other opportunities to talk-foreign trips on which I had a chance to accompany you. Finally, with your extraordinary contribution, Poland's political system changed and so did the whole world. The weekly I head, The Warsaw Voice, awarded you its first ever Person of the Year title for 1989.

For 25 years, or maybe even longer, you have been evaluated by millions of people: ordinary and extraordinary, wise and stupid, acting in good and bad faith, disinterested or self-interested. If truth be told, though, you defy any assessment, because you are a completely special and separate category; a unique species that has just one member.

The world is familiar with unique goods, precious gems and precious metals. Lech Wałęsa is made of the most precious Polish material. He is one of a kind and inimitable.

Andrzej Jonas
President and editor-in-chief
The Warsaw Voice

This letter will be published in a special coffee-table book marking 25 years since Lech Wałęsa received the Nobel Peace Prize
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