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Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

Anna Walentynowicz

Known as the Mother of Solidarity, Anna Walentynowicz (1929-2010) became a central figure in Poland’s Solidarity movement after she was fired from the Gdańsk Shipyard. Her dismissal on August 7, 1980, almost certainly since she participated in antigovernment activity, provoked a strike at the Shipyard. As the strike began to spread throughout Poland, Walentynowicz and fellow Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa were reinstated at their jobs. Walentynowicz’s hatred for the Communist Party stems from the 1970 massacre of striking workers, for which she was arrested multiple times over the years trying to commemorate their memory. She also angered the authorities by publishing an anti-communist underground newspaper. In December 1981, she was convicted of antigovernment activities and spent seven months in prison. By 1989, Solidarity had prevailed in parliamentary elections, effectively ending communist rule in Poland. In 2005, she was awarded the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, and in 2020, Time Magazine included her on the list of 100 Women of the Year. Tragically, Walentynowicz was among the dignitaries killed in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash near Smolensk in Russia, which also claimed the lives of the President of Poland and his wife, and the senior commanders of the Polish Armed Forces.