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Europe Continues Celebrating EU Expansion - 2004-05-01

Celebrations are continuing in much of Europe to mark the historic moment in which 10 new countries joined the European Union. Poland made a grand entry with a ceremony of culture, remembrance, and fireworks.

It was a glorious night in Warsaw. European splendor filled the air. The Castle Square hosted a concert to celebrate the European Union. The stage overflowed with singers, dancers and musicians from the many nations that make up the EU, from the Baltic Sea to Cyprus.

In another part of the city, at Pilsudski Square, there was a more solemn affair. President Alexander Kwasniewski presided over the raising of the EU flag by the Polish Army's honor guard.

Scenes of Poland's eventful history, from its destruction during World War II by Hitler and Stalin, to the rise of the Solidarity movement were shown on a large screen. It was an emotional ceremony before an audience of diplomats and dignitaries, with speeches and tearful eyes. It ended with a burst of fireworks and music of Polish composer Federic Chopin.

Poland entered a new chapter in its history, embracing the European family that it was taken from long ago by forces of fascism and communism.

In Prague there were similar celebrations, and more concerts and cultural events were held Saturday. In a symbol of unity, Czech, German, and Polish leaders met along the border that joins the countries.

Baltic nations are also doing their part. Estonia is planting one million trees to mark the enlargement and thousands of people started the work Saturday. Lithuania is looking through the eye of a camera to capture the moment, with photographers taking pictures for a commemorative book about the nation's first day in the European Union.