On Sunday, October 16, the Polish American Central Citizens Committee held its annual “Pulaski Awards Banquet” honoring Polonia civic leaders for their contributions in the Polish American community in Michigan. The event was held at the Polish National Alliance Council 122 Banquet Hall in Hamtramck.
The event is organized in memory of the patriotic spirit of General Kazimierz Pulaski. Pulaski, born in 1746 in the small town of Warka in Poland, in his twenties was the Head of Detachments of the Confederation. Leading an unsuccessful revolt of Polish forces against Russia, he was captured and condemned to death. Pulaski escaped through Turkey to France, and there he met Benjamin Franklin, who gave him a letter of recognition to George Washington. One month after he arrived in America, Pulaski distinguished himself in the Battle of Brandywine. A few days later, Congress appointed him Brigadier General in charge of cavalry. He also formed an independent corps of Cavalry and Infantry which became known as the “Pulaski Legion.” Pulaski was wounded and died on October 11, 1779. The US Congress proclaimed October 11 as “Pulaski Day”. He is considered as the “Father of American Cavalry.”
The Central Citizens Committee, which was established over 95 years ago, has been awarding the Polonia leaders for almost 40 years. This year, again, the group awarded “Pulaski Medals” represents many areas of Polish-American organized life - from active members of Polish American organizations, as well as successful businessmen and clergymen.
The 2011 “Pulaski Medal” recipients were: Ann Bankowski (member of the Polish Scouting Organization, teacher at the Pulaski Polish Language School and member of the board of the Polish American Congress Michigan Division), Roman Kmiecik (successful businessman, founder of “Roy’s Electric” in Hamtramck, member of veteran’s organizations), Roman Łopacki (member of the board of the local council and local lodges of the Polish National Alliance), Christopher Ozog (member of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America national Board of Directors and the Wawel Folk Dance Ensemble), Fr. Andrew Wesley (pastor of Transfiguration-Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Parish and St. Ladislaus Parish in Hamtramck), Antoni Walawender (teacher of Polish language; co-founder of the Adam Mickiewicz Polish School), Stefan Żmuda (director of the “Polonez” choir; founding member of the American Polish Cultural Center).
Additionally, a special “Friend of Polonia” award was presented at the banquet. This honor is bestowed upon a non-Pole (or non-Polonian) that devotes his/her time to further Polonian causes. This year the “Friend of Polonia” award went to John Baritche, an active member of the Polish National Alliance.
The event was a perfect opportunity for the Central Citizens Committee President, Barbara Gronet to encourage guests (over 150 people) to get involved in the life of Polish American community. But, as she stressed, the involvement doesn’t have to mean that one needs be drawn into work on a big, grand projects or to become a leader. “The little things you do matter,” she said. And they are as important…
So, as Ann Bankowski said in her thank-you speech, “Just Say Yes” when asked to get involved.
CONGRATULATIONS to all the “Pulaski Medal” recipients!