What it means to be Polish-American
I like this Wall Street Journal article about Polish-Americans' reactions to the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others Saturday. Like many (most?) Polish-Americans, I feel a bond to the old country, even through language and distance. This quote resonated with me:
David Jasinski, a 30-year-old project manager for a medical-device maker in New York, said the first thing he thought was that the Russians were behind the crash. Poland's relationship with its eastern neighbor is marked mostly by hostility, but had showed signs of improving recently as Russian authorities became more open about Katyn.
"If the Russians did it, I think this would've meant war," said Mr. Jasinski, after attending the mass at St. Stanislaus with his family. "And frankly, I would've signed up."
As the Irish would no doubt remind me, that attitude is not unique to the Poles. But there is something about being Polish and here's what I think it is.
We share unpronounceable last names that are immediately identifiable as Polish. I'm Polish, Norwegian, Dutch, Danish, French & English - but as soon as someone sees my last name, I'm forever Polish. As such, I've heard every dumb Pollack joke. We all have. Our Polish heritage was mocked at the same time Poland was brutalized by both the Russians and the Germans in WWII. The average American doesn't know about Casimir Pulaski or the Polish fighter pilots who kicked ass in the Battle of Britain. There was no "Casimir Pulaski, we are here" quote uttered by the likes of Patton (although, wouldn't that have been awesome?) Because of that, I think Polish-Americans felt a special pride in how Poland stood up to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. We felt that same pride in our Polish pope. See, we could say, Poles aren't backwards idiots - we're a brave and noble people and now everyone knows it.
We've learned to celebrate the victories of our Polish cousins and now, sadly, we'll mourn their losses too.
Posted by kris at April 12, 2010 12:46 PM
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|# April 12th, 2010 1:14 PM BVBigBro|
|Mieczyslaw Pruszynski flew with 305 squadron during WWII and wrote several books after the war. He had previously fought in the army in 1939, at Narvik (Norway) in 1940, and at Tobruk in North Africa. |
|# April 12th, 2010 8:15 PM kris|
|Isn't that a relatively common name in Poland - at least around Poznan? |