Patriotic ceremony in front of the Katyn 1940 monument – Polonia remembers the victims of the crime

Compatriots remembering the dramatic history met on Sunday, September 10, at 3 p.m., at the Katyn 1940 monument on Exchange Place in Jersey City, NJ. Every year they meet in this unique place to show that they remember and to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for their homeland.

Janusz M. Szlechta

Participants of this event commemorated: the 84th anniversary of the invasion of German and then Soviet troops into Poland and the outbreak of World War II; The 83rd anniversary of the Katyn macre and the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, including the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The ceremony was organized by:

Katyn Forest Macre Memorial Committee, Inc., Polish Army Veterans ociation and Polish American Congress. The music was provided by Janusz and Barbara Pogorzelski.

Bożena Urbankowska and Krzysztof Nowak welcome the participants of the ceremony

The participants of this special meeting were welcomed by: Krzysztof Nowak – chairman of the Katyn Macre Remembrance Committee, and vice-chairman Celina Urbankowski. And then the Aria choir from Wallington, NJ sang the Polish and American anthems (conducted by Piotr Frey).

Father Grzegorz Młudzik, parish priest of the Transfiguration of the Lord Polish National Catholic Church in Wallington, NJ,
he gave the invocation

Father Grzegorz Młudzik, parish priest of the Transfiguration of the Lord Polish National Catholic Church in Wallington, gave a moving invocation:

“We pray for all nations that suffered as a result of this war, for those who fought for freedom and peace. We ask You, God, to fill us with hearts of compion and understanding for the tragedy of those times and to teach us to value peace and reconciliation. During World War II, Poland suffered huge losses. About 6 million Poles lost their lives, and many suffered in body and soul. We pray for all those souls who have left us in these terrible times. And for those who survived but were affected by suffering and trauma. We ask You, God, to help us remember these events and strive for peace in the world. 83 years ago the Katyn macre took place, which left numerous families in despair and sadness, the priest continued. – Today we remember the Katyn macre, a brutal act of violence and cruelty, as a result of which over 22,000 Polish officers, intellectuals and soldiers were mercilessly murdered by the Soviets. Today we also remember the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, which shocked the world and left a deep wound in the hearts of many people. We pray for those who lost their lives in these terrible events, for their families and for those who, from that day forward, have dedicated themselves to building a better world, free from violence and hatred.”

Tadeusz Antoniak, Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army Veterans ociation, led the Appeal of the Fallen

After the priest’s words, those gathered at the monument paid tribute to those who gave their lives in dramatic circumstances with a minute of silence. And then Tadeusz Antoniak, commander-in-chief of the Polish Army Veterans ociation, led the Appeal of the Fallen.

After the roll call, in accordance with tradition, representatives of Polish organizations laid wreaths in front of the Katyn 1940 monument. First, Commander Tadeusz Antoniak and Celina Urbanowska laid a wreath – on behalf of SWAP and the Katyn Macre Remembrance Committee; Helena Knapczyk (accompanied by ladies) on behalf of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Corps and SWAP; scouts, representation of former Solidarity members with Janusz Kudelko; school delegations: the Polish Jagiellonian School in Paic, NJ, the Polish Supplementary School of Henryk Sienkiewicz in Brooklyn, NY, and the Polish Supplementary School. Saint Stanisław Kostka in Wallington, NJ, with director Agnieszka Kasprzak. The flowers, on behalf of the Polish American Strategic Initiative (PASI) and the Albany Polish Community Center, were submitted by Marie and Bogdan Głowacki. Two girls laid flowers on behalf of the Young Polonia Academy, and a wreath was laid by the Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union by Izabela Spólnik-Zuska and Arkadiusz Stokłosa.

Delegation of the Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union: Arkadiusz Stokłosa holds a wreath, next to Izabela Spólnik-Zuska

Vice-consul Jakub Wiśniewski laid a wreath at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York. And then he read a letter from Consul General Adrian Kubicki addressed to the participants of this unique event.

“I am very grateful to you for keeping alive the memory of these tragic events, with the hope that remembering this terrible history will help us prevent similar events in the future. Today’s event is also an act of patriotism, which is manifested in respect and remembrance of Poles who gave their lives for their homeland and in the service of others – wrote the consul general. – During World War II, Polish soldiers fought against German and then Soviet aggression. The events that took place in Katyn in 1940 are considered a crime against humanity. At least 21,768 Polish citizens, who were considered enemies of the Soviet authorities, died at the hands of the NKVD. It is worth remembering that among the almost 3,000 victims and over 6,000 injured during the attacks on the WTC 22 years ago, there were also Poles. Many of them were also on duty – they were policemen and firefighters helping to save people’s lives.

Vice-Consul Jakub Wiśniewski laid a wreath in front of the monument and read a letter from Consul General Adrian Kubicki to the event participants

The Poles we remember today gave their lives for a Poland independent from the German and Soviet invaders and free from Nazi and communist authoritarianism. We also remember Polish citizens who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and those who gave their lives there in the service of others.

A children’s choir, supported by young people, performed in front of the monument and presented a special artistic program. First, he sang the heart-warming, historical song “We, the First Brigade”. Then the children recalled the tragedies of soldiers and their families. This was best expressed in letters full of concern and anxiety about the fate of their loved ones.

The children’s choir sings under the direction of Iwona Wesołowska

After this moving program, director Agnieszka Kasprzak invited everyone to sing (un)forbidden songs together, which will take place on Sunday, September 24, in the auditorium of Felician University in Lodi, NJ.

At the end of the ceremony, the Aria choir sang the songs “God Bless Poland” and “God Bless America”. Janusz Pogorzelski and his wife Barbara sang several patriotic songs, including “Barka” and “Czerwone maki na Monte Cino”.

The Aria choir sings “Rota”, conducted by Piotr Frey

Representatives of the authorities of the state of New Jersey, Jersey City and the US Congress were announced to participate in this unique ceremony, but… none of them arrived.

Barbara and Janusz Pogorzelski provided the music for the ceremony

The Katyn 1940 Memorial at Exchange Place in Jersey City was unveiled in September 1991. This monument depicts a Polish soldier with a Soviet rifle with a bayonet stuck in his back. It was made by the well-known and respected artist Andrzej Pityński. It was the first monument in the United States dedicated to the victims of communism. The Committee placed plaques on the monument informing all those who will stand in this place about the enormous sacrifices of the Polish nation, about those who died during World War II against the German invaders and in the fight against the total power of the communist system in the Soviet Union, in Poland and Eastern European countries.

There were attempts to remove this monument. For several years, the area around the monument has been revitalized by the city authorities. Recently, a black wall was built in front of it, which covers the monument and makes it less visible and therefore does not attract attention. Polish American Strategic Initiative (PASI) – The Polish American Strategic Initiative demands the removal of this wall. The case may go to court.

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