A day to Celebrate Polish heritage

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
Trip End Sep 08, 2010

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Where I stayed
House guest of Diane and Ken Wojick

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We went back to the Mapleberry restaurant for breakfast this morning then off to the Polish Museum of America. This is the oldest ethnic museum in Chicago. In the foyer on the 3rd floor there is a beautiful sled that is over 200 years old.  It was carved out of one big log.  The King of Poland had it made as a Christmas present for his young daughter.

I also learned more about a few famous Polish people who were an important part of our American history that we never hear or talk about in our schools.  (I wonder why???) 

Tadeusz Kosciuszko was born in Poland in 1746.  He was a military leader and an engineer.  When he heard the Americans were fighting for their freedom, he offered to help.  He came to America and build forts along the Hudson River to stop the English ships from shelling the land.  Congress made him a General.  After the war, he was rewarded with land in America for his services.  In his will, he told Thomas Jefferson to sell the land and use the money to buy Slaves and give them their freedom and educate them to be self sustaining.  Kosciuszko loved freedom and he wanted all people to be free.  (Use this man for a Black History Month school report.)

Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland in 1747.  He was a great horse soldier in Poland.  Benjamin Franklin asked him to come to America and teach the soldiers how to fight on horseback.  Pulaski agreed and became the 'Father of the American Cavalry.'  Congress made him a General and he died a hero's death when he led a charge in the Battle of Savannah in 1779.

Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun Poland in 1473.  He was a priest and a scientist.  He studied the planets and discovered that all the planets move around the Sun.  Until then people thought the Sun and the planets moved around the Earth.  Copernicus is the Father of Modern Astronomy.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski was born in Eastern Poland and gave his first concert in America in 1891 in Carnegie Hall in New York City.  He became so famous that 10 years later everyone in Europe and in the United States knew his name.  He gave over 1,500 concerts in the U.S.  He had his own railway car and carried his own special Steinway piano.  He loved Poland and was disheartened with it being torn apart and off the map.  President Wilson listened to him and had Bullet Point 13 added to the Versailles Peace Treaty saying that Poland should be an independent country.   In 1919 Paderewski became Poland’s First Minister of Foreign Affairs.  During WWII Paderewski knowing that the Polish army needed money and supplies came to the U.S. to raise money by giving concerts.  He gave all the money that he made to help the Polish Army.  He died in 1941 in NY, NY at the age of 81.  Paderewski’s body was buried in Arlington national Cemetery until it could be returned to a free Poland.  In 1992 he was given a new funeral and was buried in Warsaw in St. John’s Cathedral. But his heart remained in the U.S. because he always said he loved this country so much.  His heart is enshrined at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Penn.

The best-kept secret in the U.S. about the Holocaust is that Poland lost six million citizens or about one-fifth of its population: three million of the dead were Polish Christians, predominantly Catholic, and the other three million were Polish Jews. The second best-kept secret of the Holocaust is the greatest number of Gentile rescuers of Jews were Poles, despite the fact that only in Poland were people (and their loved ones) immediately executed if caught trying to save Jews. The Yad Vashem museum in Israel honors "the Righteous Among the Nations" and Poland ranks first among 40 nations with , 6,135 men and women, almost one-third of the total, honored for their "compassion, courage and morality" and who "risked their lives to save the lives of Jews."

Throughout the German occupation, many Polish Gentiles – at great risk to themselves and their families – engaged in rescuing Jews from the Nazis. Polish Jews kept in hiding by non-Jewish Poles was around 450,000.

And of course we all know of Pope John Paul II, need I say more about him.

I knew some of the details of the about mentioned people, but I learned so much more.   Dave even commented about what he learned today and is getting a better understanding on why I have such a love for my Polish heritage.

When we got home and heated up a fantastic Polish Dinner to compliment our day of celebrating my heritage.  Yesterday I made the kapusta  with smoked and fresh kabasa (Stewed sauerkraut and Polish sausage) which only had to be warmed up and Diane made some pierogis (kinda like ravioli but bigger stuffed with potatoes & cheese, or potatoes only, and even meat fillings.) fried in a pan. 

What a great day to celebrate our heritage, even Dave enjoyed being a part of our Polish heritage today.

Good night and God bless all the Polish people (including my relatives) who have made this country what it is today.  As well as the many men, women and children who gave up their lives or put their lives in danger to help other human beings.  As always, may God bless all my readers.  Good night.

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Linda Navin on

The Polish Museum looks interesting. I've always liked Polish stoneware.....so decorative. I'm getting hungry just reading about all the good food you've been enjoying!

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