ACPCC PRESIDENT, 1974 - 1977
I will try to highlight the more significant achievements during my three-year ACPCC Presidency in what I consider the order of their importance rather than chronologically.
"The Kosciuszko Project", conceived by Alfred Bochenek at the Miami Convention in 1975, (and approved a year later by the Board of Directors) became a major national project for our organization. In my opinion, it was one of the foremost achievements of the ACPCC.
The implementation of this project required many tedious efforts through which we involved the White House, the Congress and the Department of State. Although our friendly relations with all of these major sources made our efforts somewhat easier, we, nonetheless, had to overcome many obstacles and "diplomatic undercurrents". In this respect we successfully avoided any direct communication with the communist government in Warsaw and its Washington Embassy. Instead, we used the official channels of the U.S. Government and the direct contact with the then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the Metropolitan of Krakow and Custodian of the Wawel Cathedral.
On August 3,1977, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 573, introduced by Congressman Clement Zablocki, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee. The Resolution was co-sponsored by 24 other members of the House. It stated, among others:
"Whereas the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs has made arrangements for the erection of a memorial plaque at the sarcophagus of Tadeusz Kosciuszko in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland commemorating his dedication to the principles of freedom and has obtained the approval of the government of Poland and the United States, as well as the appropriate Polish ecclesiastical authorities, for the erection of this plaque bearing the folIowing words in both Polish and English:
ON THE BICENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORYNow, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that in an expression of esteem and gratitude by the American people, the plaque to be erected in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland, on October 17,1977 in memory of General Tadeusz Kosciuszko shall be presented by the Ambassador of the United States to Poland on behalf of the American people as a gift to the people of Poland".
AT SARATOGA, OCTOBER 17, 1777, A GRATEFUL AMERICA REMEMBERS GENERAL TADEUSZ KOSCIUSZKO, FIGHTER FOR YOUR FREEDOM AND OURS.
I have quoted above only the most important part of the Resolution because I consider it an integral part of the proud history of our organization.
The culmination of this project came in a solemn and moving celebration at the historic Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland. As a native "Krakowianin", it was for me one of the most memorable moments in my life to follow Ambassador Richard Davies' speech. My own remarks reflected the sentiments of the patriotic American Polonia.
It should be mentioned that Cardinal Wojtyla, who was summoned to the Vatican shortly before the ceremonies in the Cathedral, sent a warm message from Rome, which was read at the beginning of the ceremony.
The impressive bronze plaque now installed for all time at the Kosciuszko sarcophagus was designed by our accomplished Washington sculptor, John Komski, and cast in a factory in our nation's capitol. It will continue to tell future visitors to the Krakow Cathedral how deeply America reveres the memory of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, hero of significant revolutions in both countries.
THE NATIONAL BICENTENNIAL
I was especially fortunate that my terms of office as President coincided with the nation-wide celebration of the Bicentennial of America's Independence. It provided us with a number of opportunities to tell - and retell - the story of the contributions made by the millions of Americans of Polish birth and Polish descent to the growth and development of this great country.
As the President of the ACPCC, I was appointed to the National Bicentennial Ethnic/Racial Alliance, part of the official American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, which was responsible for coordination of the extensive nation-wide observance. Most of the affiliated societies within the framework of the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs responded favorably to the call for making Polish participation in this historic event significant. Some arranged exhibits in their respective communities featuring the role of Poles in various fields of endeavor. There were also many lectures, seminars and special cultural programs. Of special significance was the ACPCC National Bicentennial contest for design of a poster reflecting Polish contributions to the United States. The contest received special recognition from the National Bicentennial Administration and the prize-winning posters were published in its official organ.
COLLABORATION WITH THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
Our substantial involvement in the nationwide Bicentennial also brought us for the first time into a close working relationship with the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. We were invited, among others, to participate in a week-long International Folk Festival on the NATIONAL MALL, adjacent to the Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson monuments. We are happy and proud to note that the Polish participation in this festival was the largest and most colorful of all the twenty-five ethnic groups participating. Our attractive brochures were excellent public relations for the ACPCC with the millions of visitors from all over the country.
When NBC aired, on December 6, 1975, an accusation in its "Weekend" program, that Poles had helped the German Nazis in the extermination of Jews during World War II, we immediately joined with other leading Polish-American organizations in a protest to the President of the National Broadcasting Corporation. In my letter to him, I pointed out the sufferings which Polish Christians had themselves endured and the sacrifices they had made to help their fellow Polish-Jewish citizens. To have renamed silent in the face of such preposterous accusations could only have lent credence to the accusers.
The results of these protests to NBC and to the Federal Communications Commission was a prompt apology and an assurance that such unwarranted accusations would never be allowed in the future.
Similarly, leading Washington daily newspapers have published my letters to the Editor on several occasions. In one instant, to my pleasant surprise, Congressman Jack Kemp from Buffalo inserted one of my published letters into the Congressional Record. He did so urging his colleagues in the House of Representatives to "read it carefully so that you can better understand the struggle that continues inside the country of a freedom-loving people".
Items about the ACPCC appeared in the Congressional Record on several other occasions thanks to our close contact with several members of the U.S. Congress.
NEW CLUB AFFILIATIONS
During my tenure our organizational network expanded substantially by the addition of the following organizations as affiliates of the ACPCC:
Polish Heritage Association of Baltimore, Maryland
Polish Cultural Association of Central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford, Connecticut
Polish Arts Club of Trenton, New Jersey
Polish American Arts Club of Santa Barbara, California
American Polish Heritage Society of Somerville, New Jersey
The fact that during my tenure as President, the ACPCC address was in Washington was a great advantage for keeping in touch with various governmental agencies. With this in mind, I advocated at several conventions the need to establish a permanent ACPCC address in the nation's capitol instead of rotating the organization's address depending upon the address of each new President.
In my 1976 Annual Report, I said: "With the impressive expansion of our organization, the element of stability and permanence is of paramount importance. What may sound almost revolutionary today may be recognized as necessary tomorrow. Concretely, I have in mind the feasibility of a permanent national headquarters with a minimal professional staff".
This modest recommendation developed later into the more ambitious proposal of Blanka Rosenstiel to buy a property m Washington to serve as an ACPCC Headquarters as well as a Polish Cultural Center. To make this idea a reality, a substantial amount of money was raised with great effort.
Regrettably, what subsequently happened was a total deviation from the original idea. What we now have in Washington is a totally independent entity with its own membership and no identification with the American Council for Polish Culture.
WHITE HOUSE MEETINGS
Evidence of our standing m America's multi-ethnic, cultural community was evident in the fact that we were invited on several occasions to meet with top officials in the White House. This was manifest, among others, by our participation in discussions relative to the Ethnic Heritage Studies Programs., an important topic m the country at that time. At that meeting, I was accompanied by Mrs. Chrypinska, Reverend Chrobot and Dr. Kolm.
On another occasion, I had the honor to represent the ACPCC at the presentation by President Ford of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Maestro Arthur Rubinstein.
I am proud to state that during my terms as President, the ACPCC enjoyed exceptional press coverage and, consequently, better Public Relations than at any time in the past. Under the chairmanship of Ted Lopatkiewicz, our capable P.R. Director, we produced quarterly press releases to all Polish-American publications. The "Kosciuszko Project" and our participation in the Bicentennial received especially broad coverage in both the U.S. and Polish-American media.
Along with frequent press releases, I made a point to send periodically an informative circular letter to all Presidents of our affiliates as well as individual members.
JOINT LECTURE PROGRAM WITH THE KOSCIUSZKO FOUNDATION
After months of negotiations, I signed an official agreement with the then President of the Kosciuszko Foundation, Dr. Eugene Kusielewicz. The agreement stipulated that the ACPCC would annually select a prominent Polish writer with no links to the Communist regime for a series of lectures in the United States. While the Kosciuszko Foundation undertook to cover the costs of international transportation, the ACPCC was to be responsible for arranging the lectures through our affiliated clubs. The member clubs were to cover the costs of domestic travel in the U.S. and provide full house-hospitality among our membership.
Regrettably, this project was never fully implemented except m the case of Juliusz Zulawski, who lectured in this country on the theme "Current Trends in Polish Literature".
In addition to the Kosciuszko Foundation, we also enjoyed a close relationship with the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in New York. As the President of the ACPCC, I served on the Advisory Council of this leading Polish-American scientific and scholarly institution.
REPOSITORY OF ACPCC ARCHIVES
We officially designated the "Immigration History Research Center" of the University of Minnesota, which has a highly professional staff of 20 as the repository for all ACPCC archives. We instructed Dr. Baretski, our Historian-Archivist to transfer all documentation in his possession to this facility in Minneapolis.
The Center was supported by a U.S. Government financial grant. The ACPCC additionally made a modest financial contribution to the Center and appealed to all of its affiliates to henceforth send a copy of their future annual reports to the Center.
POLISH COMPOSER SERIES
Under the leadership of Music Chairperson Noreen Sinclair of Detroit, the ACPCC raised $5000 to assist the Kosciuszko Foundation's efforts to promote a broader knowledge in this country about Polish music composers and a better appreciation for their works. This was to include English translations of the biographies of Karol Szymanowski, Stanislaw Moniuszko, Henryk Wieniawski, Ignacy Paderewski and Frederyk Chopin.
CHANGE OF NAME FOR THE "QUARTERLY REVIEW"
To provide a better "Polish Identity" to our organizational organ, we decided to change its name from "Quarterly Review" to "Polish Heritage". This appropriate suggestion was made by Irene and Kirkley Coulter, who edited this publication for many years.
KRAKOW UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIP PROJECT
The project began with a $3000 + donation I received from the widow of my dear friend, Jozef Pabis, to commemorate his memory.
With her contribution, Mrs. Pabis stipulated that the ACPCC should use this money to fund annually a modest grant in the amount of $500 for a young Polish-American to participate in the Summer Polish Culture Program at the Krakow Jagiellonian University from which her husband, Józef Pabis, had graduated.
This venture has developed into the permanent scholarship program of the ACPC now directed by Mrs. Rose Kruszewski.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FUND
I initiated this Fund with the objective of underwriting major, national ACPC projects and named Mrs. Rose Polski Anderson as its first Chairperson. It was initially a very successful effort which in its first three years earned and accumulated almost $15,000.
In order to establish a maximum impact, it was stipulated that all pro-grams to be financed from this Fund were to be of special significance and had to be approved by the ACPCC Board of Directors. Regrettably, no effort was made in subsequent years to augment the Fund and expenditures therefrom have not always been in accordance with its original purpose.
Thanks to a generous $2500 grant from the Rosenstiel Foundation, an attractive and informative brochure was prepared and printed in full color in 4000 copies. The brochure was made available to all of our affiliates to serve in their promotional efforts.
PRESIDENTS MEMBERSHIP TROPHY
In 19761 initiated the President's Membership Trophy award to be given annually to the club which recorded the highest increase in membership over the previous year. In originating this award, I sought to stimulate membership drives in our affiliates. The first winner was the Buffalo club, followed by the Detroit affiliate. Regrettably, this project was subsequently discontinued.
During all of the three years of my ACPCC Presidency, we endeavored to lift our sights beyond the beaten path of routine activities. We earned a position of respect as the leading national Polish American cultural organization.
While we counted the blessings of our own freedom, we never lost sight of the decades-long oppression suffered by the people of Poland. At each convention during my term of office, we expressed our solidarity with the Polish people in their struggle to regain independence from Communist enslavement.
All of our achievements were possible thanks to the genuine spirit of team-work and deep motivation of my wonderful Washington co-workers. I had regular brain-storming sessions with Cari Sharek and Fred Bochenek to review the progress of ongoing projects and to develop new ones. We were never short of ideas - only short of time. Jean Sharek, as Secretary carried a heavy work-load every day with a rare dedication.
Despite the distance that separated us, Hania Chrypinska was always ready to accept any time-consuming organizational task. And after three busy terms of office as President, I was happy to turn over the leadership of our organization to our loyal and creative Vice President, Hania Chrypinska.
American Council for Polish Culture, Our Second Quarter Century, 1973-1998. Edited by Anna Chrypinska 1998.