WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Five military guards assisted for the first time Thursday in a monthly ceremony held regularly by the now-ruling party in honor of former member President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others ever since they were killed in a 2010 plane crash in Russia.
The guards were added by new Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and give the observance state status. The ministry said Thursday that starting immediately, military guards will assist the ceremonies that are held on the 10th day of each month in Warsaw's cathedral and before the Presidential Palace.
During evening ceremonies, three soldiers with an army banner assisted a Mass in the cathedral, two others stood guard by the large photo of the late president and his late wife, Maria Kaczynska, placed in front of the palace.
A few hundred people, led by the ruling Law and Justice party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is the twin brother of the late president, walked from the cathedral to the palace with a banner reading "We Remember Smolensk," the name of the airport in Russia, where the presidential plane crashed April 10, 2010.
As every month, Kaczynski addressed them and said that a memorial to the victims of the crash is to be placed before the palace, by the decision of the current president, Andrzej Duda, a party ally.
The crowd briefly chanted "Jaroslaw, Jaroslaw."
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has led monthly private remembrance ceremonies ever since the crash near Smolensk airport killed the presidential couple and 94 others, including lawmakers and top military commanders. The observances always draw members and followers of the conservative party that is drawing inspiration from Poland's dramatic past.