Elton John will be in Poland this weekend accepting the Medal of Gratitude for his part in bringing down the Communist regime that ruled the country until 1989. He’ll receive the award from former president Lech Walesa during his concert in Sopot.

“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,’” stated Magdalena Charkin-Jaszcza of the European Solidarity Center, according to the Daily Mail. “Sir Elton travelled to the country for a concert in 1984, when Communist army chief General Jaruzelski ruled Poland.”

At that concert he took the courageous step of praising Walesa, who was a trade union leader at the time. Elton John risked arrest with his pro-democracy comments. The two had just met at Walesa’s flat, where they shared a bottle of champagne. “We award this to foreigners who helped Poland during its long struggle for freedom,” Charkin-Jaszcza said.

The ’80s were a period of transformation for the singer, who says in his new book that it was then he began to reorganize his priorities. ‘Love Is the Cure‘ hits stores on July 17. Elton John talks openly and honestly about his support of Indiana teen Ryan White who fought a very public battle with AIDS until his death in 1990.

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