The genesis of the Uprising Committee of the Celebration of the 4th Anniversary of the Smolensk Disaster.
The idea of solemn commemoration of the anniversary of the Smolensk catastrophe and Katyń Massacre was born in 2013 in November during the visit of Minister of Poland Antoni Macierewicz in the USA. After a very successful meeting between the Minister and Polonia, which took place in American Czestochowa, Doylestown Pennsylvania there was also one more meeting in a smaller group created by Prior of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa for which he invited minister Antoni Macierewicz and prof. Kazimierz Nowaczyk, one of the experts investigating the course of the Smolensk disaster. The meeting was also attended by the representative of the Polish Newspaper Club from Philadelphia Wiktor Kowalczyk. During the meeting, a proposal was made to organize a ceremony on the occasion of the anniversary of the Smoleńsk Disaster in American Czestochowa. This initiative appealed to the all-present, and Father Prior consented to it.
A few days later, at the meeting of the Gazeta Polska Club in Philadelphia, the idea gained general approval from the club members. As a result of further discussions, the Philadelphia club has delegated to organize this celebration: Bogusław Kowalski, Wiktor Kowalczyk, Tadeusz Antoniak, Jerzy Krupiński, Mieczysław Masiukiewicz, and Katarzyna Winnicka. Just before the first meeting in Czestochowa, the head of the Polish American Congress in New Jersey was contacted – Dr. Stanisław Śliwowski, who willingly joined the joint preparations. We were also joined by his deputy editor John Czop.
At the first meeting on December 13, 2013, the official name of the Committee was established. It was also decided that the Committee would apply to Polish diaspora organizations asking them to join the work of the Committee and set up a list of organizations to address with such a question. Finally, over the course of several weeks, the Committee included:
- Father Prior representing the Pauline Fathers from the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, in Doylestown,
- Tadeusz Antoniak – who was elected chairman of the committee,
- Wiktor Kowalczyk, Bogusław Kowalski, Jerzy Krupiński, Mieczysław Masiukiewicz, and Katarzyna Winnicka, representatives of the Polish Newspaper Club in Philadelphia
- Dr. Stanisław Śliwowski and John Czop from the Polish American Congress of the New Jersey Division
- Adam Stępień, Danuta Wyszyńska, and Franciszek Gardyasz, representatives of the Radio Maryja Circle of Friends in Perth Amboy, NJ,
- Teresa Wójcik from the Kościuszko Foundation, Branch of Philadelphia
- Jan Milun President of the Boston organization Stanislaw Moniuszko Musical Society
- Grzegorz Tyminski – webmaster
Spiritual care over the whole undertaking, in addition to Father Prior, was carried out by Fr. Tadeusz Górka from Swedesburg and priest Dr. Konstanty Pruszyński from Philadelphia, priest Wiesław Strządała SDS, and priest. Andrzej Ostaszewski from Newark.
At subsequent meetings, in the initial phase of the Committee’s existence, the objectives were defined, which later evolved into the Appeal available on the Committee’s website. During subsequent talks, it was decided to organize a discussion panel during the celebrations of the Smolensk Disaster and the anniversary of the Katyn Massacre, in which various Polish diaspora organizations will take part. John Czop proposed the theme “Let’s build a common patriotic front”. Tadeusz Antoniak presented the idea of developing a memorial book in which information about the Committee, its goals and ideas will be communicated. The second part of the book, commercial and advertising, was to collect funds for this venture.
Ultimately, the Committee set the goals of its action. The most important was the organization of the Celebrations of the 4th Anniversary of the Smolensk Disaster and the 74th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre.
The second goal was to create an opportunity and prepare a frame for a meeting of Polish diaspora organizations and individuals who care about the good of our homeland and the future of the Polish community. Communicating to the communities and politicians of both Polish and American knowledge about selected important events from the recent history of Poland, and above all, the consequences of the Smolensk catastrophe and the Katyn massacre committed by the Soviets on Polish officers and intelligentsia so that the situation with the 1944-45, when the US President Roosevelt, within the framework of ad hoc political interests and maintaining correct relations with Russia, consciously quietened the matter of Katyn, despite the evidence he had.
In June 2014, the late Jan Miluń, inspirer and good soul of all ventures of the Committee. He was an outstanding singer and opera musician, the only Pole who was awarded the George Washington medal awarded by the American Freedom Foundation.
In September 2014, the work of the 4th anniversary Commemoration Committee was completed and at the same time, a joint decision was made to organize the next 5th anniversary of the Smolensk Disaster and the 75th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre. Prior of the American Czestochowa, he gave permission for further activities of the Committee.
During the 5th anniversary, a plaque dedicated to the victims of the Smolensk crash was unveiled, a replica of which, on the first anniversary, was removed by the Russian authorities from the place of the catastrophe.
In 2016, the Committee decided that, in addition to organizing the 6th anniversary and the Polish Diaspora Forum, it will build a monument dedicated to the Unbroken Soldiers, who stood at the cemetery in American Częstochowa. The idea of building a monument came from Grzegorz Tymiński – creator of the Pamięć.us portal and a member of the Committee. Construction work was undertaken together. With the huge support of sponsors: Adam M Bak Foundation, Polish Slav Federal Credit Union, Polish Army Veterans Association in America, District II, SWAP Foundation, Polonia Institute from California, Windows Windows, Doma Export, Piast Inc and a large group of Polonia, September 18, 2016 , the official act of unveiling the monument was made by the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda.
The authors of the monument are sculptors Bożena and Andrzej Praszczyk from New Jersey. It is the first monument in the world with built-in land from the letter “Ł” lodge of the Warsaw Military Cemetery in Powązki.
Throughout the period of its activity until now, the Committee has expanded its goals and recognized that within the Polish national interest it is necessary to engage in propagating the findings of the NATO summit in July 2016, which concerned the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank and the deployment of US soldiers in Poland. The symbol of the new quality of the alliance and raising our relations under this system became Lieutenant Charles Cierpica, a member of our Committee who, while serving in Afghanistan, was saved by a US Army sergeant, Michael Ollis, who shielded him and lost his own life. Another important goal of the Committee’s activity is to promote Polish history and to implement its aims within the framework of historical policy, which was promulgated by Prime Minister of the Polish government Beata Szydło in its expose in 2015.
In 2018, the Committee itself and many others organized many patriotic events: the Day of the Unbroken Soldiers, the Polonia Forum, the anniversary Smolensk festivities, the Congress of Polish Newspapers from the USA and Canada, the Great Patriotic Concert “For the Freedom of Our Nations”, Celebration of the 100th Independence Day Polish and Anniversary of the Outbreak of Military State.
Currently, in the Committee:
The Michael Ollis Memorial Foundation – Thank You for Your Service – Cf. Karol Cierpica
The Circle of Friends of Radio Maryja in Perth Amboy, NJ – Danuta Wyszyńska, Adam Stępień, Franciszek Gardyasz, and Henryk Siemienowski
Polish American Congress, New Jersey Branch – John Czop, Dr. Stanisław Śliwowski
Reduta Dobrego Named Name – North-East USA – Jacek Szklarski
Klub Gazety Polskiej w Filadelfii – Tadeusz Antoniak – Chairman of the Committee, Jolanta Chojnacka, Aneta Antoniak, Bogusław Kowalski, Jacek Kusiński
Polish Newspaper Club in New Jersey – Paweł Grzegorczyk
Polish Newspaper Club in New York – Maciej Rusiński – Club Coordinator for the USA and Canada
Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark NJ – Tomasz Szybowski
Remembrance Association – Grzegorz Tymiński