Archive for September 17th, 2017

A DAY WITH GENERAL KOŚCIUSZKO

Kosciuszko 102b

Irena Frączek reports

On September 17, 2017, the Kościuszko Park in Milwaukee was again a place of gathering for Poles expressing their admiration for the Polish-American hero, Tadeusz Kościuszko. The event was organized to honor the 200th Anniversary of his death – commemorated worldwide under the patronage of UNESCO – and to celebrate the Year of Kościuszko as declared by the Senate of the Republic of Poland.

An important message reverberating throughout the Sunday’s event was the need to teach our children the history of their ancestral homeland and its heroes. The task is already a part of the teaching program in the St. John Paul II Polish Saturday School (KPSS), one of the event’s organizers. But the “Day with General Kościuszko” was embraced as a great venue for the children of Milwaukee’s Polonia to learn more about the hero recognized in both the country of their ancestors and the country where they live.

The event began with a mass celebrated by Father Edward Traczyk in the beautiful church of Polish SS. Cyril and Methodius. Erected by Milwaukee’s Polish residents and dating back to 1892, the church still makes all services available in Polish language. It also hosts the St. John Paul II Polish Saturday School (KPSS), whose accomplishments have won it the Clement Zablocki Civic Achievement Award granted in 2016 by the Polish American Congress – WI Division.

The ceremony in the Kościuszko Park commenced after a spirited procession arrived from the SS. Cyril and Methodius church waving the Polish and American flags and carrying the wrath to be placed at the Kościuszko Monument. David Rydzewski (president of the Polish American Congress – WI Division) and Bożena Przybysz (KPSS coordinator) delivered the Kosciuszko 102bopening remarks.
Fr. Edward Traczyk spoke next reinforcing his earlier message of the importance of teaching history to the children and reminiscing about the estimated 60,000 people attending the first dedication of Kościuszko Monument in 1905 (second dedication took place in 1951 when the statue was moved across the park to its current location).

The monument’s history moved front and center again in the words of Claude Krawczyk, a chair of the Kościuszko Monument Restoration Committee, attending the event with two other committee members: Judy Ramazzini and Susan Mikos. It is thanks to the committee and hundreds of benefactors that after renovation and rededication on the Independence Day in 2013, the monument now adorns the park in its unvarnished glory.

The wrath honoring the “Hero of both Hemispheres” was laid at the monument’s base after the participants sang the American and Polish anthems. Katarzyna Zawiślak (KPSS) led the singing and later directed also her young students playing a traditional tune Płynie Wisła, płynie, po polskiej krainie (Flows the Vistula River, flows across the Polish lands)) on hand bells. The choice of song could not be more opportune since along with Tadeusz Kościuszko, the Vistula River is one of several honorees proclaimed as 2017 patrons by the Polish Parliament.

Kosciuszko 102bBesides the animated group of school children wearing the folk costumes or red T-shirts (with the school logo and coat of arms of the Republic of Poland in the back), four characters in Kościuszko outfits gave the event a very special flavor. Stealing the rest of the show, the “Four Kościuszkos” delivered speeches recounting in Kościuszko’s voice the three main phases of his life.

Brothers Fabian and Kevin Marchewka (both from the Catholic Polish Saturday School of St. John Paul II) gave voice to the young Kościuszko describing his childhood, school years and favorite subjects. Stan Graiewski’s (Polish American Congress – WI Division) speech focused on the Kościuszko’s engagements in the American Revolutionary War and ended with a salute to the attentive audience.

The third speech – written by prof. Don Pienkos (Polish American Congress – WI Division) and delivered by Neil Dziadulewicz (Syrena Dancers) – turned the spotlight on Kościuszko’s deeds after the American War of Independence and particularly on his efforts to restore the free Poland. The conclusion of that speech could not summarize his life work any better, while simultaneously giving the gist of its meaning to the contemporary society and to all of us attending the ceremony:

Kosciuszko 102b

There are many, many memorials and monuments to what I stood for – freedom, independence and social justice – for all people.

Like the beautiful monument right here in Milwaukee.

Thank you for this!

But perhaps the two best testimonials are the living ones. One is the America’s Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The other is the Poland of today – a democratic, free and independent Poland, a Poland for all Poles whatever their station in life, a Poland that is a trusted friend and ally of the United States.

Thank you all for today, too!”

Bookmark and Share
Sunday, September 17th, 2017 Newsletter No Comments