Irena Frączek reports
Following the tradition established in 1997, Wisconsin Division of Polish American Congress (PAC) proudly hosted the annual luncheon in observance of Polish Independence Day and Veterans Day. Over 250 guests attended this year’s gathering held on November 6, 2016 in the beautiful Polish Center in Franklin, Wisconsin.
The Polish Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) was established in 1937 to celebrate the anniversary of November 11, 1918 proclamation restoring Polish sovereign state after 123 years of partition by Russia, Germany and Austria. This day of tribute to all those who fought for independent Poland coincides also with the Veterans Day honoring past and present members of the United States Armed Forces.
The ceremony began with the singing of Polish and American national anthems led by Joseph Drobot, President of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and violinist John Pienkos. Among distinguished guests introduced afterward were Piotr Janicki, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Michael Lovell, President of Marquette University, Rev. Robert Wild, Past President and current Chancellor of Marquette University, Teresa Jankowski, Commissioner of the Polish National Alliance, Ken Skowronski, President of the Polish Heritage Alliance, artist Bolesław Kochanowski and many past and present officers of the PAC-Wisconsin Division.
After opening remarks delivered by David Rydzewski, president of PAC-Wisconsin Division, and consul Piotr Janicki, the elegant meal followed the invocation given by Fr. Ronald Kotecki. Aleksandra Burzynski, the owner of Polonez Restaurant in Milwaukee, generously donated the delectable dessert ending the banquet.
The event culminated in the salute to veterans and traditional ceremony of awarding the Congressman Clement Zablocki Civic Achievement Award to outstanding individuals and organizations for their service to the Polish-American community and Polish contributions made to broader advancements in the state and the nation. Over the years, the award has been granted to over seventy deserving recipients with many of them attending the 2016 ceremony.
Congratulations to the 2016 honorees including:
Dr. Stanley Jaskolski – an accomplished scholar and most successful fundraiser, former Dean of the Marquette University College of Engineering and former member of the Board of the National Science Foundation. He has been also a generous supporter of the Polish Heritage Alliance and the Polish Center of Wisconsin.
Major Leonard Jedrzejczak – a major in the Polish Army under the command of general Władysław Anders and participant of heroic battles of Monte Cassino, Bologna and Tobruk. In the United States, he was actively involved in the Polonia Sport Club, Polish Scouts, the weekly Polish radio program and the Wisconsin PAC.
Rev. Tim Kitzke – the pastor of Three Holy Women Parish on Milwaukee’s East Side, one of the city’s leading parishes including three churches established by Polish immigrants. He serves also as Vicar General for Urban Ministries for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and board member of the Catholic Home of Milwaukee.
Ken Skowronski – Wisconsin State Representative, President of the Polish Heritage Alliance of Wisconsin, an organization actively sponsoring the annual Polish Fest and the Polish Center of Wisconsin. Formerly served as alderman for the City of Franklin, president of the Franklin Lions Club and Deputy Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation – a non-profit body of business and community leaders dedicated to raising funds needed to preserve the magnificent Basilica of St. Josaphat and heightening public awareness about its importance. Since 1901, the basilica is one of the most spectacular shrines of faith and Polish cultural heritage in the United States.
John Paul II Polish Saturday School at Milwaukee’s St Maximilian Kolbe Parish- continuing the long standing tradition of serving Polish Americans in Milwaukee area, the school offers its students instruction in Polish language and an excellent program of classes in Polish culture, traditions and geography of Poland.
Sisters of St Joseph of the Third Order of St Francis – originally known as the Polish Sisters of St. Joseph, the order was founded in 1901 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin to teach children of Polish immigrants. Celebrating the 115th anniversary, the order is engaged now in the broader fields of health and respite care.
Click the link below for the downloadable document
with more information about 2016 honorees
2016 honorees full length
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