2017 Polish Independence and Veterans Day


Polish American Congress Wisconsin Division (PAC-WI)
celebrates again the
Polish Independence and American Veterans Day

Irena Frączek reports……….

Designed to celebrate the Polish Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) and the US Veterans Day (coincidentally both observed in their respective countries on November 11th), the annual signature event of the Polish American Congress – Wisconsin Division (PAC-WI) was held this year on November 5th, 2017. As usual, the well-attended luncheon provided also a spectacular setting for recognizing the 2017 recipients of the Congressman Clement Zablocki Civic Achievement Award.



The sounds of Polish music greeted the luncheon guests arriving from Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison and Chicago. Performed in the spacious, high ceiling foyer of the Polish Center by John Pienkos (violinist) and Thomas Gapinski (pianist), patriotic Polish tunes served also as a great backdrop for the Kościuszko exhibit that Polanki, the Polish Women’s Cultural Club of Wisconsin, made graciously available to augment the ceremony. In attendance was Ewa Barczyk-Pease, who with Tamara Johnston co-authored the exhibit to commemorate the Year of Kościuszko.


Jim Robaczewski (Secretary-Treasurer of Polish Roman Catholic Union of America) and violinist John Pienkos led the singing of Polish and American national anthems that traditionally opens the ceremonial banquet. Among distinguished guests introduced afterward were Piotr Janicki, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago and Ken Skowronski, President of Polish Heritage Alliance and State Representative of Wisconsin; Jeff Kuderski; Executive Director of Polish Heritage Alliance; Denna Flemming, President of Polanki, Polish Women’s Cultural Club of Milwaukee; Claire Ann Gauoette, President of Polish Heritage Society of Northeastern Wisconsin; Teresa Jankowski, Commissioner of Polish National Alliance Dist. 14 Wisconsin; Claude Krawczyk, Chair of the Kościuszko Monument Restoration Foundation; Henry Kulesza, Representative of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, Aleksandra Burzynski, the owner of Polonez Restaurant in Milwaukee; and many past and present officers of the PAC-Wisconsin Division.

In the opening remarks that followed the applause for honored quests, David Rydzewski, president of PAC-Wisconsin Division, focused on the strengths of Polish-American friendship and recounted the remarkable story of “The Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States” containing 5.5 millions signatures and greetings sent in 1926 from Poland to the United States on the 150th anniversary of American independence. On the other hand, Consul Piotr Janicki, spoke about contemporary connections between Poland and American Polonia, listing also a variety of ways in which we can support and contribute to progress in the country of our ancestors.

In recent news about past recipients of the Zablocki Award, Professor Wacław Szybalski (the 2015 awardee) was recently honored in the special event organized by the Kościuszko Foundation Collegium of Eminent Scientists. More information and the event’s photo gallery can be accessed from the News & Events page on the Kościuszko Foundation website and an article published in Nowy Dziennik (Polish Daily News).

After the elegant meal that followed invocation given by Deacon William Banach, and the heartfelt salute to all Veterans, Dr. Donald Pienkos, Past President and current Treasurer of Polish American Congress, reviewed the legacy of Congressman Clement Zablocki and the history of Civic Achievement Award established in his name. Since 1950, the award has been bestowed upon nearly 100 individuals and organizations that distinguished themselves by their service to the Polish-American community and Polish contributions made to broader advancements in the state of Wisconsin and the nation. In 2017, another four outstanding individuals have joined their ranks:

DSC_0411-adsMałgosia Daugherty – a member of the Polish Heritage Society of Northeastern Wisconsin (PHS of NEW) active in all faucets of the society’s work. After joining it in 2002, she served as its Treasurer for ten years and currently serves as its vice president. She also became involved in producing the Society’s bi-monthly publication (3,500 in circulation), organized the presentation of movies on Polish themes and participated in organizing and promoting many other Polish-themed cultural events in the Green Bay area, St. Norbert College (where she teaches Polish since 2008) and Life Long Learning Institute in the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

DSC_0390-adsAlex P. Durtka, Jr. – a President and CEO of the Institute of Wisconsin (IIW) for the past thirty four years, where he oversees programs and services dealing with immigration, refugee resettlement, translation and interpretation, citizen diplomacy, and education. He is also involved in organizing the Holiday Folk Fair International, actively promotes the cultural heritage goals of UNESCO and serves on the board of Sister Cities International and other organizations sharing the IWW mission. In those capacities, he assisted in addressing the needs of newcomers from Poland and spreading knowledge of our Polish heritage.

DSC_0380-adsNeil Dziadulewicz – coming from a family with strong tradition of activism in Milwaukee’s Polish community, he is a member of Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble for nearly forty years. Serving for five terms as Syrena’s president and working closely with Ada Dziewanowska, Syrena’s beloved director and choreographer (see Neil’s video about Ada), he helped to expand the international recognition for Syrena’s presentation of Poland’s rich heritage of dance, music, costumes, and customs. Neil also led Syrena’s successful bid to host the 2000 festival of the Polish Folk Dance Association of Americas and co-chairs the hugely popular Polish “Bal Maskowy.”

DSC_0385-adsBeverly E. Krass – a hard-working member of many organizations serving interests of Polish community in Milwaukee. She is a devoted and supportive parish member of the magnificent St. Josaphat Basilica and a long time officer of the Milwaukee Society of the Polish National Alliance, a key fraternal organization in the area. Beverly also played a leading role as secretary of the Polish Heritage Alliance in critical years of the organization raising funds needed to build the Polish Center (opened in 2000) and has been a volunteer at every Polish Fest since that Alliance-sponsored festival celebrating Polish heritage began in 1982.

Click on the link below for the downloadable document with more information about the 2017 honorees
2017 honorees full length

Congratulations to
the 2017 recipients of Zablocki Award


The success of the 2017 luncheon would not be possible without the organizational skills and/or public speaking talents of several members of the Polish American Congress – Wisconsin Division. In the alphabetic order they include Joanna Fraczek, Judith Free, Clare Ann Gaouette, Sharon Haberski, Ann Pienkos, Dr. Don Pienkos, John Pienkos, Dr. Mark Pienkos, Steve Pienkos, David Rydzewski and Derek Zarzeczny.

Specials thanks go also to these generous donors to Silent Auction: Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear, Clare Ann Gaouette, Judith Free, Sharon Haberski, Hampton Inn & Suites, Nina Nowakowski, Old World Deli, Dr. Don Pienkos, Polonez Restaurant, Ray’s Butcher Shop, David Rydzewski and Southside Gardens & Florist.

Sunday, November 5th, 2017 Newsletter

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