As we watch people die for freedom in what is being called the “Arab Spring,” you should be exceptionally proud and remember your Polish forefathers. It was in Poland that this battle was fought back in the late 1700s when Europe's first written constitution was signed! It embodied many of the same democratic principals contained in our U.S. constitution. In fact, some of the U.S. Constitution’s language can be traced back to Polish philosophers whose books were on the shelf in Jefferson's library. Unfortunately we shall never know whether the Constitution of May 3, 1791, might have provided the structure for true reform in Poland. Sadly, it was in effect for only a short time. Like the oppressive regime in Libya, Russia, Austria and Prussia acted quickly to occupy the territories of Poland, and by 1795, Poland had ceased to exist, except in the hearts of its people. However, Poles never lost their devotion to the cause of liberty and freedom and finally are enjoying it. Celebrate that spirit today by learning more about the important document here and sharing this story with your neighbors and colleagues.
Call to Action on Visas
In honor of this special holiday, we are joining with Polonia across the nation to battle for a new type of rights for our Polish brethren. For too long, the United States has treated our friends and families in Poland as second class citizens requiring them to pay hefty fees to apply for visas to visit this country, while Europeans from other countries travel here without visas. As part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), citizens of 36 foreign countries can travel to the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Poland has been excluded from this because Congress changed the VWP rules for countries that have more than 3% of their citizens denied visas. At present, 9.8% of Poles are denied visas because of the subjective questions that they are forced to answer at American Consulates in Poland. But fewer than 3% of Poles who come to America stay longer than the 90 days allowed on their visas. There is a bill in Congress that would change that. But it will only become law if you and your friends call and write to your Senators and Representatives. Alex Storozynski, president of The Kosciuszko Foundation, is calling on all of us to take action! Learn more about the bill, get the contact info for your representative and even a mock up letter here.
Freedom through Faith
Pope John Paul II’s effect on Poland’s struggle for freedom was the focus of the documentary Nine Days that Changed the World that was screened on Saturday night. The film followed a standing room-only mass of thanksgiving for the impending Beatification celebration that took place the following day. Special thanks go out to everyone that made it possible: Fr. John Keehner, Kinnick Funeral Homes, Seven Roses Deli and the volunteer cooks, bakers and setup and take down staff. It was a lovely celebration and a fitting tribute.
For the Children
Irena Sendlerowa, a Polish Catholic social worker who served in the Polish Underground and resistance organization, is credited with saving 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Her story, told partly in her own words, is the focus of the documentary, "In the Name of Their Mothers" can be seen on Western Reserve PBS. Last spring the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown in cooperation with the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation and the YSU Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies presented a screening of the film with Director Mary Skinner on hand to discuss this story. Skinner, the documentary’s director, described her creation of the documentary as a “labor of love” in honor of her mother, a Polish, Catholic WWII orphan from Warsaw. Skinner said that she developed a great “affinity” for Sendler, particularly noting how a group of women summoned the strength and bravery needed to save the lives of innocent children. Skinner moved to Warsaw in 2004 and spent five months interviewing Sendler. She also shot 70 hours of interviews of other rescuers and hidden children, and conducted four years of archival research for the project. If you didn't get a chance to join us at YSU, it will be worthwhile for you to make time.
Or if your passion turns more toward the printed word, we’ve got a new volume for you.
At least nine million Americans trace their roots to Poland, and the new Polish American Encyclopedia examines a wide aspect of that experience. Author Dr. James Pula, professor at Purdue University, uses his experience as editor of editor of the scholarly journal Polish American Studies to give a true comprehensive look at us. Using thematic essays, topical entries and biographical profiles it looks at the impact of one of American’s largest group of immigrants and their ancestors have had on the formation of this nation.
COMING UP: May 5th 8 PM Pittsburgh Polish Cultural Council nite at Pittsburgh Public Theater for "Superior Donuts”… May 12th 5-9 PM Polish Happy Hour at Vintage Estates…May 20th 7:30 PM Screening of “The Officer’s Wife” followed by and meet the director reception with Piotr Uzarowicz…June 1st Polonia Foundation of Ohio scholarship applications due…June 18th Simply Slavic.
Your PolishYoungstown Team