London: Sir Elton John will be receiving a Medal of Gratitude from Poland this weekend for his contribution in bringing down the Communist regime.
The legendary singer will be presented with the award by the former president and trade union leader Lech Walesa at his concert in Poland’s seaside resort of Sopot on Sunday.
“We award this to foreigners who helped Poland during its long struggle for freedom,” the Daily Mail quoted Magdalena Charkin-Jaszcza, of the European Solidarity Centre (ESC) in Gdansk, as saying.
“Elton John came here and gave us the support we needed when we were living in a police state where people were getting beaten up and killed like in George Orwell’s 1984,” she said.
John had traveled to the country for a concert in 1984, when Communist army chief General Jaruzelski ruled Poland and the protest movement, led by trade union Solidarity and its leader Walesa, was at its height.
While in the country, John had visited Walesa, who had then recently served a jail term for his activism, in his flat. Where the pair had shared a “morale-boosting” bottle of champagne.
At his concert, John had openly praised Solidarity – which was illegal at that time.
The idea of giving him the award came from 32-year-old Damian Domski, a Polish immigrant who is a worker at Age UK and a gay rights activist.
“If I meet Sir Elton on Sunday all I want to do is shake his hand and say thanks,” Domski said.
“He used his fame and influence at a very important moment for us in Poland. Solidarity activists were effectively being criminalized and he renewed their courage to keep going,” he added.
By 1989, Poland had overturned the Communist rulers who had been in place since the end of the Second World War.
Charkin-Jaszcza said that the ESC was looking for more nominees for the Medal of Gratitude.