Thaddeus Kosciuszko helped Thomas Jefferson formulate our United States Constitution. He then went back to his homeland and helped formulate Poland’s Constitution, which was approved by the Polish Parliament on May 3, 1791. Though this Constitution lasted only four years — due to the aggression of Prussia, Russia, and Austria and the resulting dissolution of Poland as a sovereign nation — it was never forgotten or ended.
Preserved in the hearts of those oppressed people for 123 years, it was re-awakened in 1918 as Poland regained its independence at the end of WWI. By this time, Winona’s Polish immigrants had already left the oppression of their occupiers (they owned nothing, couldn’t fish, hunt, or even pick firewood from the woods of their occupiers) and the nastiness of Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck: “Bash the Poles ‘til they have had enough ... it’s the only way for us to survive.” They arrived in the United States to work at menial jobs, living close together for security and language. They celebrated their faith, feasts, heroes, and new lives, and actually began to thrive — all the while keeping the memory of their homeland in their minds and hearts.
Today, five and six generations later, Polish-Americans still respect and honor the people who generated not only their hair and eye color, but also their personalities and abilities, along with their traditions, faith and food.
Winona’s Polish Constitution Day memorial service and banquet begins with a 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, May 4, at St. Stanislaus Basilica — complete with the Polish Choir singing, Polish marchers in procession, Rev. Richard Dernick preaching, and neighboring clergy concelebrating. The Mass will be followed by a 5 p.m. social at the Polish Museum Morrison Annex, 363 East Second Street. An authentic traditional Polish dinner will be served at 6 p.m. with Dr. Joseph (Banbenek) Hughes and a presentation on the first 50 years of St. Stanislaus Parish.
Congratulations to George Borzyskowski, who will be awarded the Polish Person of the Year during this event.
Tickets are limited and are available on a first-come basis. They are available for $15 at Midtown Foods and the Polish Museum.
On Sunday, May 5, a traditional May crowning at the Morrison Annex will be celebrated. Polish hymns will be sung by the museum’s children’s choir followed by Malgorzata Plecka leading the recitation of the Rosary and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. A crowning processional will follow as costumed and specially attired marchers bring the floral crown for the statue of the Virgin.
The program concludes with two National Anthems — one in English honoring U.S. citizens and the second in Polish, honoring the 8,000 Poles who forged the way for future generations.