Archive for November, 2019

2019 Independence Celebration


Polish Independence Day
and Veterans Day celebration
Poland In a Year of Anniversaries
of Enormous Consequence
1979, 1989, 1999

Irena Frączek reports……….

“Today, one hundred and one years after Poland was reborn, Poland is free and independent, and because of NATO, it’s security is guaranteed by the other 28 NATO member countries… With this freedom, independence and level of security and self determination, Poland has created one of the most dynamic economies in Europe.”

2019 EVENT
photo gallery

In these words, filled with pride and appreciation for Poland’s achievements, current President of the Polish American Congress (PAC) America Division, David Rydzewski, set the upbeat tone for the 2019 celebration of Polish Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) and the American Veterans Day held in Milwaukee area annually since 1997.

Poland has the fastest growing economy in Europe with unemployment at a 28 year low, skilled labor force educated in the extensive system of universities and technical schools, and over 300 R&D centers established to facilitate cutting edge innovation.

Among hallmarks of Polish economy is the Aviation Valley, a cluster of over 160 aerospace & aviation companies, recent rise to Europe’s second largest manufacturer of yachts known for their quality and sleek design, the remarkable growth of Poland’s auto-making industry and construction of a new Central Airport that can become the largest in Europe.

Mr. Rydzewski’s praise for the Polish economy (see details to the right) were music to the ears of over 200 guests gathered in the beautiful banquet hall of the Polish Center of Wisconsin. Welcoming them in the facility built to reflect the “Polish tradition of gracious hospitality” was Steven Chybowski, the President of the Polish Heritage Alliance managing the center. In a brief overview of the alliance’s activities, Mr. Chybowski noted that in 2020, it will be 20 years since the center opened its doors after 13 years of hard work that went into erecting it. And this was just the first one of many anniversaries recognized on that day.

Another praise for Poland’s economy experiencing 28 years of growth uninterrupted even by the latest recession came from Piotr Janicki, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. He shared also the joyous news about Poland joining the 38 countries already participating in the Visa Waiver Program (going into effect on November 11, 2019) and substantial increase of direct flights from Poland to Midwest (to 15 per week starting in 2020). These developments are expected to strengthen the economic, social and cultural exchange between our countries. Among anniversaries of great importance to contemporary Poland, Consul Janicki noted:
     ● 100 years since the re-establishment of the USA-Poland diplomatic relations (1919);
     ● 20 years since Poland joined the NATO alliance (1999);
     ● 15 years since Poland became a member of the European Union (2004).

In the main speech of the day, David Rydzewski extolled a few other memorable events that helped Poland on its quest for freedom and prosperity:
     ● 75 years since the Polish American Congress was founded (1944 in Buffalo, NY);
     ● 40 years since Pope John Paul II made his first historic trip to his homeland (1979);
     ● 30 years since Solidarity movement won an incredible election victory over the Communist
     regime and the Solidarity-led government began to build a prosperous Poland;
     ● 20 years since the Polish American Congress, nationally and in Wisconsin, played a vital role
     in helping Poland’ s entry into the NATO alliance (1999).

After the invocation given by Deacon Theodore Gurzynski and an elegant luncheon ending with the well-deserved applause for the cooking staff, the focus shifted to the commemoration of our veterans. In her short remarks, Nellie De Baker, the Wisconsin State Commander of the Polish Legion of American Veterans, and National Vice Commander, made a heartfelt appeal to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made to win the Poland’s independence, and to never forget the heroic fighters for freedom, their families, and all those who continue to serve in the USA and in Poland.

The event’s MC, Mark Pienkos (Past President of PAC WI Division, Presently Polish American Congress National Vice President for Public Relations) introduced one of those fighters “For Our Freedom and Yours” (Za naszą i waszą wolność) present at the ceremony in person. Ted (Tadeusz) Cisek participated in the Operation Market Garden as part of the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade. In September 2019, he returned to Arnhem and Driel at the invitation of the Dutch government for events organized to pay a 75th Anniversary tribute to those Polish soldiers.

Ted Cisek was a 2001 recipient of the Congressman Clement Zablocki Award traditionally presented to the recipients during the Independence Day/Veterans Day Luncheon. In 2019, another four deserving individuals joined the group of nearly 100 past recipients of this distinction, and assisting the honorees were PAC member Karen Więckowski, PAC Recording Secretary Derek Zarzeczny and PAC Sgt. at Arms Hank Kulesza:

CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls – taking pride in her Polish Heritage, she is a longtime member of the PNA Milwaukee Society and past Board Member and supporter of the Polish Heritage Alliance. During her tenure as the Mayor of St. Francis, WI (2012 to 2018), a new Civic Center was built, St. Francis Historical Society was established, St. Francis became the new FBI State Division headquarters, and the Friends of St. Francis Optimist Club was started. She is currently a member of the South Milwaukee Lions Club, South Milwaukee American Legion Auxiliary, South Side Business Club and South Shore Chamber of Commerce.

DSC_0380-adsDominican Sisters of Immaculate Conception Province – a contemplative congregation of Dominican sisters running the St. Ann Rest Home (named after its main benefactor, Ann Augustowski) arrived to Milwaukee in 1944 and since 1945, the nursing home they operate provides care to the elderly people of Polish background. In 1960, the home was expanded to accommodate over 50 residents and became a skilled nursing facility. With majority of sisters on staff coming from Poland, the home is known for the home-like atmosphere and excellent quality of care. Sister Andrea Andrzejewska accepted the award in the name of the congregation.

Bolesław Kochanowski – a member of the Polish American Congress, past president of Polish Heritage Awareness Society, and a third generation blacksmith who has taken that craft to the realm of fine art. His noted sculptures include: “Soaring Free” at Har Aurora Medical Center, Hartford; “Great Blue” at the West Bend Mutual Insurance Corporate Campus and “Windward” in Egg Harbor. Three projects currently in progress are all in Stevens Point, WI: A roundabout installation “To the Point”; “Pinecons” inspired by Polish wycinanki and alluding to the strong Polish ethnicity of the region; and “For Your Freedom and Ours” for the Polish sector of the Cultural Commons within Pfiffner Park.

Alan Patek – a member and past president of the Polish Heritage Club in Madison-WI, former member of the Polish Heritage Society of Northeastern Wisconsin and former Board Chair and then President in the inaugural year of Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE), the largest parochial/private school system in Wisconsin (2400 students). Allan worked for over 20 years in the health insurance industry and held a variety of positions in local and state government. Since 2014, he is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Insurance Security Fund (WISF) that protects customers of insolvent insurers. He also serves on the board of Wisconsin Conservation Voices, one of the leading conservation groups in Wisconsin.

As usual, the success of 2018 luncheon was possible thanks to talents and skills of new generations of members of the Polish American Congress – Wisconsin Division and the planning committee. In the alphabetic order they included: Michele St. Marie-Boelkow, Irena Frączek, Joanna Fraczek, Clare Ann Gaouette, Sharon Haberski, Teresa Jankowski, Katarzyna Niemczyk, Dr. Donald Pienkos, David Rydzewski, Karen Więckowski and Derek Zarzeczny.

Specials thanks go also to these generous sponsors of the event:
The Polish Legion of American Veterans, State Department of Wisconsin with the Polish Legion of American Veterans and Kobus Molenda Post 49 (Casimir Pulaski level $500)
Friends of the Kosciuszko Foundation and Wisconsin Study in Poland Scholarship (Marie Sklodowska Curie Level $250)
Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (Ignacy Paderewski Level $125)

Thank you also to guests participating in the fund rising raffle and its donors: Judith Free, Terry and Claire Gaouette, Donald and Angela Pienkos, Ruth Pilarzyk, David Rydzewski, St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation, Old World Deli, Polonez Restaurant, Landmarks Gallery (Milwaukee, WI), Wave Pointe Resort (Sturgeon Bay, WI), Taste of Paris (Mundelein, Wi) and Magenta Printing (Franklin, WI).

 

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