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Monument Dedicated to Poles Faithful to the Very End in the Struggle for Freedom, Peace and Justice by Edward S. Wiater.
It's there.... a big, beautiful Polish white eagle etched in black granite in the Heroes Walk section of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park on Buffalo's waterfront. It proclaims to all that Poland's courageous men and women fought and died in World War II for Poland's freedom and ours. With American and Polish banners waving in a cool lake breeze during a bright sun-filled day, his Excellency Bishop Henry J. Mansell of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese blessed the stone memorial after extolling the courage of the Polish people. He praised Poles who battled on all fronts in WW II and those who with incredible resolve knocked out Nazi forces from atop Monte Cassino. A hill, he said, he climbed without being shelled and could only imagine what it was like to fight for seven days on those bloody slopes.
The battle for Monte Cassino was a crowning victory for the Allies in Italy but, it was bought with the blood of thousands of Poles in Gen. Wladyslaw Anders' 2nd Polish Corps. The abbey was pulverized by Allied bombers. But, the heralded "Unconquerable Gustave Line" was still controlled by the elite German 1st Parachute Division until the Poles dislodged the Nazi forces and raised the red and white Polish flag atop the mount at 10:20 a.m. May 18, 1944. When the battle was over, the hillside was covered with red poppies made all the brighter red by the blood of Polish soldiers. As reported by Maria Jaworska in an earlier Am-Pol Eagle feature, 923 Polish soldiers died in the battle, almost 3,000 were wounded and 145 are still missing in that action.
The scene gave rise to the song "Czerwone Maki Na
Monte Cassino" (Red poppies on Monte Cassino), a poignant song which was
rendered powerfully in a solo by Dr. Thomas Witakowski. He also directed the
Chopin Singing Society in singing the Polish and American national anthems, "Bogu
Rodzica Dziewica," and "America the Beautiful."
Krystyna Nieduzak sang the hauntingly beautiful "Zal Szopena" (Chopin's Sorrow.)
accompanied by Dr. Witakowski. When Dr. Witakowski was singing or directing the
Chopin Singers, the accompanist was Vita Binder.
The main address was given by Janusz Krzyzanowski, national commander, Polish
Veterans of WW II, SPK, who reminded all that it was the first time in history
that the armed victors were not allowed to return to their home.
"The Polish soldiers did not despair," Krzyzanowski said. "They changed their uniforms for a civilian attire, organized themselves throughout the world, formed organizations such as the SPK World Federation and continued fighting for free Poland in all possible ways." Poland is now free and Krzyzanowski cited the efforts of Polish veterans including the work done by Buffalo SPK Post No. 33 in the fight to free Poland. Etched under the big eagle is the battle scene of Monte Cassino. Wording on the banner held by the eagle are the words "Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna" and under that are these words: "This memorial is dedicated to the members of the Polish armed forces who gallantly participated in active combat on land, high seas, and in the air. These brave men and women fought for your freedom and ours alongside the Allies on the western front, as well as in Poland as the underground home army and intelligence gathering network."
Under that are these stirring words:
"Passerby, tell the world that we were faithful from the beginning to the very end in the struggle for freedom, peace and justice for all mankind."
The SPK Post No. 33 commander's son Dr. Thaddeus Nieduzak talked briefly on "The Greatest Generation" concluding with one of the most revered passages in Polish literature: "If I forget about them, you, God in heaven, forget about me." The floral wreath was placed at the base of the monument by Krystyna Pienkowska and Stefania Kurczaba. Numerous veteran organizations provided men in uniform and standard bearers. The playing of Taps concluded the program.
Veterans - WNY Polonia.