Polish American Heritage Month became a great success in Pennsylvania and in 1986, it was made a national campaign and the date moved into the month of October. The change was made to allow school children to take part in the month long celebration. Polish Americans and Poles in America now had a way to express their spirit in a truly American way. In Chicago, streets, parks, schools, government buildings, have been named in recognition of the contributions of Polish Americans but now an entire month focuses the attention of all on ourselves. It is important not to single out those like Pulaski and Kosciuszko, heroes to both Poland and America, but to focus in on your friends, family and yourself.
As everyone of us have contributed to the success of America, now is the time to show others who you are, where you came from, and what you do. Teachers, scientists, athletes, businessmen, politicians and diplomats, artists, writers, actors,.. the list goes on for ever and in it, include yourself. Speaking to others, let them know you are proud of your heritage, from where you, your parents, grand-parents, great grandparents come from. The contributions made to America, from the first Polish settlers in Jamestown, Virginia as craftsmen and artisans, and leaders in the fight for representation, to astronaut Dr. James Pawelczyk, third generation Polish American and mission specialist for the latest missions of the space shuttle, are immense.
Just an example of a few:
scientist/inventor – Mieczyslaw Bekker, moon rover, first vehicle on the moon; baseball – Stan Musial and Carl Yaztremski; diplomacy – Zbigniew Brzezinski; religion – John Cardinal Król; music – Leopold Stokowski, conductor, and Bronislaw Kaper, Hollywood composer; engineering – Tadeusz Sendzimir, steel production, and Ralph Modjeski, bridge builder including the San Francisco Bay Bridge; football – Chicago Bear Bronko Nagurski.
The list is endless – from the first governor of Alaska, Wladimir Krzyzanowski, to actress Stefanie Powers.