A National Celebration of Polish History, Culture and Pride.
October has traditionally been celebrated by the Polish-American community as Polish Heritage Month. That translates into Polish as “Miesiąc Dziedzictwa Polskiego”
The main point of Polish American Heritage Month is to highlight the contributions Poles and Polonians have made to America and the world as a whole, celebrate various facets of our cultural heritage and share its beauty with the community at large.
Polish American Heritage Month was first celebrated in 1981 in Pennsylvania. Originally, August was the month selected to focus in on the contributions of great Americans of Polish descent that were often not recognized.
Michael Blichasz of Philadelphia, a fourth generation Polish American, started in an effort to bring to the forefront the strong pride he believed all Americans of Polish heritage should have in the successes that Polish Americans have made in America.
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,
Ralph Modjeski, bridge builder including the San Francisco Bay Bridge;
George Pitaki, former 3-time Governor of State of NY
Barbara Mikulski - member of the Democratic Party, United States Senator representing the State of Maryland
Frank Murkowski -(politician and former Governor of Alaska, Republican.
Mike Ditka - former NFL player, television commentator, and coach
Mike Krzyzewski - head coach of the Duke University men's basketball team and the 2008 gold medal-winning U.S. men's Olympic basketball team
Bronko Nagurski - football - Chicago Bear.
Janusz Kaminski - two time Oscar winning cinematographer and film director who has photographed all of Steven Spielberg's movies since 1993's Schindler's List
Roman Polanski, Film such as, 'Rosemary's Baby', 'Chinatown', The Pianist', "Oliver Twist', '' film-version of 'Macbeth'.
Pola Negri - film actress who achieved notoriety as a femme fatale in silent films between 1910s and 1930s.
Gloria Swanson - Film actress of the Silent Era but made a huge comeback when she did 'Sunset Boulevard' (1950).
Loretta Swit - stage and TV actress...best known for starring in 'MASH'
Stefanie Powers - stage and film actress and singer, 'The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.'; emmy-award winning TV show 'Hart to Hart'; also an outstanding polo player
Ross Martin- Polish-born TV and Film actor (Wild Wild West)
Ted Knight - film and television actor in 'Mary Tyler Moore' show and other sitcoms
Carroll Baker - 60s-70s film actress and author
Christine Baranski - film and television actress
Pia Zadora - actress and singer
The list is endless - from the first governor of Alaska, Wladimir Krzyzanowski, to Martha Helen Stewart, business magnate, television host, author and magazine publisher.
Things to Do During Polish American Heritage Month.
Listed below are suggested activities for your October celebration.
1. Contact your local Polish American organizations to see how you can work together to sponsor a successful Polish American Heritage Month event.
2. Request local elected officials to present a proclamation or special greetings to Polish American Community leaders during a local public event. (They ask for our vote, so it is only appropriate for them to recognize the Polish American taxpayers during their local Polish American Heritage Month Celebration). (Sample proclamations are available upon request). Invite your area Polonia and local news media to attend.
3. Offer a Mass at your local church for the intention of your area Polish American Community and invite everyone to attend. Following the Mass, hold a reception with Polish pastries and refreshments welcoming all in the spirit of Polish hospitality.
4. Sponsor an event to honor great men and women of Poland. Since we commemorate the death of American Revolutionary War Hero General Casimir Pulaski on October 15th, may we suggest you organize a wreath laying ceremony next to a portrait of Pulaski or consider honoring people such as Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Fryderyk Chopin, Marie Sklodowska Curie and others.
5. Encourage people to display Polish and American flags and Polish American Heritage Month posters in their homes, organizational headquarters, banks, businesses, etc. Flags, posters and banners help bring attention to the fact that October is National Polish American Heritage Month and that Polonia is celebrating proudly. (Sample posters available upon request).
6. Sponsor a lunch or dinner social with Polish food, music and entertainment.
1. Organize an essay contest in your local schools. (Complete information on sponsoring an essay contest is available from the national committee). You can award prizes during a school assembly or public event to encourage participation from parents and students alike. Ask local businesses and organizations to help sponsor the event and offer prizes. This is also a way to involve local teachers as judges of the essay contest.
2. Sponsor a coloring contest. (Art works are available upon request from the national committee). The coloring contest has become very popular in elementary schools. Ask local art students to organize and judge the entries. Ask a local printer to reprint the artwork for your committee at no charge with the name of his business at the bottom as an advertisement.
3. Sponsor a children's music or dance recital in a local auditorium, school hall or recreation center. There are children's groups that would appreciate this type of exposure for their students. Request them to highlight Polish music or dance during their recital. Invite the general public and Polonia to attend.
4. Sponsor a children's art contest requesting area schools to highlight Polish history and culture through student art. Display their art works and sponsor an award ceremony.
1. Organize a display at your local shopping mall or library featuring Polish books, arts and crafts, wycinanki and paintings by Polish American artists. Contact local artists and request them to display their works at the local library, parish hall, organization hall, public or office building lobby.
Media Contact & General Advertising
1. Display Polish American Heritage Month posters. Sample posters are available from the National Committee at the address listed on this letterhead. You can reprint these posters and encourage local stores, banks, supermarkets, churches and organizations to display the posters throughout the month of October.
2. Contact your local radio, TV and newspapers to tell them about National Polish American Heritage Month and activities scheduled in your area. When they advertise your activities as a public service, call to compliment the stations' managers. If they do not announce your local events, call to express your disappointment. (Sample Radio & Newspaper Press Releases are available from the National Committee).
3. Ask local radio programs to mention your area Polish American events during October as part of their community bulletin board or public service announcements. (Every radio station is required to give time for public service announcements). You can also ask your radio stations to play a few selections written by Polish composers over the centuries and recorded most recently by internationally famous artists. This is a way for them to bring attention to Polish American Heritage Month and highlight the work of Polish composers.
4. Ask local organizations, banks, businesses and elected leaders to place a "POLISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH SALUTE" advertisement in your local newspapers or on local radio or TV programs. Placing these salutes each week during the month of October will remind everyone about POLISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH. (The national committee has an artwork for the newspaper, radio and TV salutes). They are available upon request.
5. Ask area high school and college students of Polish descent to assist you with press releases and other activities. Often this is a way for them to get additional credits for school and will allow them to be part of the Polish American Heritage Month Celebration. Possibly there are individuals in your community with children or grandchildren who could be called upon to assist you with publicity and other efforts.
Family & Friends
1. Start your family tree and invite all the members of your family to get involved.
2. Review a map of
Poland and learn more about the town or city of your ancestors.
3. Read a book on Polish history and share that information with family and friends.
4. Attend a Polish American event and invite others to attend with you.
5. Display a Polish and American flag, a red and white bow, or a Heritage Month poster in your home or place of business.
6. Learn more about a Polish custom, and share that information with others.
7. Join a Polish American organization and get involved in some way.
Source : http://www.polishamericancenter.org/