Do Something Polish to Celebrate


compiled by Irena Frączek

October is Polish Heritage Month, a month in which Americans of Polish descent (about 10 million strong) are especially proud of their roots, Polish achievements and over 400 years of their presence in the lands of the contemporary United States.

Some fun, interesting and useful things to do in October 2020 are listed below
this short account of how come October became the Polish Heritage Month.

From President Reagan’s Proclamation 5229 signed on August 17, 1984:

The millions of Americans who trace their ancestry to Poland have made vast contributions to our Nation. Tadeusz Kościuszko and Kazimierz Pułaski crossed the ocean to help the American colonies win their independence. Throughout the last two centuries, thousands of Polish Americans have fought bravely to help preserve that independence. Polish Americans have also made outstanding contributions in the arts, the sciences, and in industry and agriculture. Through these efforts they have helped in innumerable ways to establish a strong and free United States.

The story goes back to the first celebration of Polish Heritage that took place in Philadelphia in August 1981. The event was organized by Michael Blichasz, the President of the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia, with assistance of Polish American Congress, Eastern Pennsylvania District (since 1986, also the national Polish American Congress).

Amid the event’s rising popularity, growing national interest and succeful lobbying, U.S. Representative Robert Borski (D-PA-03) sponsored House Joint Resolution 577 designating the month of August as “Polish American Heritage Month.” The resolution became public law after President Ronald Reagan signed it on August 7, 1984.

Just ten days later, he issued Proclamation 5229 in observance of this occasion and paying tribute to four great sons of the Polish nation: Tadeusz Kościuszko, Kazimierz Pułaski, Pope John Paul II and Lech Wałęsa.

President Reagan continued to issue similar proclamations every year through the end of his presidency but in 1986, the Polish American Heritage Month was moved to October. This was done partly to help schools organize related celebrations during the school year, and in part to coincide with the arrival of the first Polish settlers in Jamestown, Virginia on October 1, 1608 (twelve years before the Pilgrims reached the Massachusetts). October is also the time to commemorate the deaths of Polish heroes of the American Revolutionary War: Kazimierz Pułaski (October 11, 1779) and Tadeusz Kościuszko (October 15, 1817).

From Proclamation of October 11, 2020 as the
General Pulaski Memorial Day
signed by President Trump on October 9, 2020:

General Pulaski was a military leader renowned for his bravery and tactical acumen. In Poland, he fought valiantly in defense of his country’s sovereignty and against the scourge of foreign tyranny. In 1777, recognizing our burgeoning Nation’s cause, Pulaski eagerly joined General George Washington’s Continental Army upon the recommendation of Benjamin Franklin. Pulaski spent the next 2 years in service to America and its battle for self-determination and liberty.
Click here to read the full text

The memory of Pulaski is celebrated at other times as well (for example March in Illinois & Wisconsin, July in Buffalo, NY), October 11 is the federal observance of the General Pulaski Memorial Day. It was established in 1929 by the joint resolution of Congress and since then, every US President has issued a proclamation on this occasion (1930 was the exception). Read the “Recalling Pulaski” story below to learn more about this Polish American hero.

Celebrating Polish Heritage Month in October 2020

Poland: A History of Political Elections and Important Anniversaries, a three part mini course offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UW Milwaukee. Lectures are delivered on Tuesdays,October 6, 13 and 20 (12:30 – 1:45 pm) via Zoom. The instructors – Dr. Donald Pienkos and Dr. Neal Pease – are University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee faculty and members of the Polish American Congress, WI Division. Visit the course page for syllabus, cost and other details.

A Polish Mistress of the Brush: OLGA BOZNAŃSKA , a webinar about one of the most renowned Polish female painters known he turn of the twentieth century. Presented by the Kosciuszko Foundation and originally scheduled for Tuesday, October 7 at 1 pm, the recording of the webinar is now available on youtube. Weather familiar with her work or not, a video presenting a collection of her 155 paintings is definitely worth exploring.

A timely reminder for all the pierogi lovers that October 8th is the National Pierogi Day in the United States. Not in the mood to make pierogi yourself? Check two Polish businesses listed below that can help you get a pierogi feast without all the work.

Through the months of October and November, the FLAVOR of POLAND episodes air on the following channels of Milwaukee PBS:

WMVT on Thursdays at 4:30pm and Sundays at 10am
WMVS on Saturdays at 12:00pm and 12:30pm
CREATE on Mondays at 11:00pm and 3pm,
with repeats on Tuesdays at 2am.

Polish American Congress, Wisconsin Division
is a proud sponsor of the series

On October 11 at 12pm, Krzysztof Meyer, one of the greatest living Polish composers, will deliver the 2020 PADEREWSKI LECTURE-RECITAL, in the renewned Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California (SCU). Streamed virtualy in 2020, this annual event commemorates Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), a pianist, composer, politician (the first prime minister of independent Poland after WWI), humanitarian, and orator, who was greatly acclaimed as a virtuoso musician and a statesman. Links to other pages with lots of related information are available on the lecture’s page.

Through the month of October and until November 18, Polish Film Festival Miami (PFFM) streams a documentary series GET TO KNOW POLAND: PODKARPACKIE, a cinematic journey through the pristine beauty and rich culture of the Podkarpackie Region of Poland:
Open Range/Wypasiony Raj (2017) by Rafał Gużkowski
The Residents of Moczary/Moczarowi mieszkańcy (2016) by Rafał Gużkowski
Master and Apprentice/Mistrz i uczeń (2020) by Katarzyna Mazurkiewicz
The Armorer Must be a Musician/Płatnerz musi być muzykiem (2017) by Katarzyna Mazurkiewicz

Streaming is free but you need to create an account at the PFFM website.

This might be also a great time to revisit our 2020 POLAND: VIRTUAL TOURS page featuring photos and links needed to virtually explore some of the most stunning and memorable places to visit in Poland.

And when you get out and about in the Milwaukee area, please patronize these Polish-owned businesses: Magenta Printing, Polonez Restaurant and Old World Deli.

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