Welcome to the 42nd Annual Polish American Heritage Ball – the fruit of hard work and commitment of past and present Board of Directors, Committees, Presidents and dedicated members of the Arizona chapter of the Polish American Congress. Tonight we come together, one more time, to celebrate the rich history, diverse culture and deep-rooted traditions of the Polish people, spanning over more than ten centuries and building support for a vibrant, enduring Polish American community in Arizona.
For over 400 years Polish settlers have been following a path to freedom, which led them to the United States of America, for some the land of opportunities and for others deliverance from prosecution. Over that period of time, millions of Polish immigrants settled in towns and cities, helping weave the fabric of America. With them they brought their faith, traditions and Polish pride.
Individuals of Polish descent live in all 50 states and participate in every aspect of American life. Bound by a sense of pride and an affinity for their ancestral homeland, they strive to maintain the tradition, culture and language of their forefathers while seamlessly assimilating into American society. Polish pride flourishes especially today, following Polish Independence Day, celebrated on November 11 throughout the country and abroad, to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty in 1918, after 123 years of partition by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire.
The Polish American Congress (PAC) – a representative organization of over 10 million Polish Americans across the US, and over 150,000 in Arizona, fosters this national celebration. For nearly seven decades, the Polish American Congress, originally founded in 1944 in Buffalo, NY, has continued to serve the interest of Polish Americans and the people of Poland through two complementary agendas. The Polish agenda, which aims to support and enhance relations between Poland and the United States, and the American agenda, which is geared to unite the Polish American community and to support its members in becoming better informed American citizens.
Within the boundaries of these agendas, the Polish American Congress of Arizona – a local non-profit organization is dedicated to the empowerment of Polish-Americans and Polish immigrants of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds through the creation of cultural awareness, sense of national pride, as well as opportunities to excel scholastically, professionally, and socially. PAC achieves these goals through its support of educational activities, cultural events and developmental opportunities. Moreover, the organization protects the good name of Poland and the Polish American Community by clarifying distortions and rectifying inaccuracies relating to Polish and Polish American history. The PAC closely monitors US policies, supports a bilateral relationship between Poland and the US while coordinating efforts aimed at affecting legislation involving Poland and Polish Americans.
As we gather today, reflecting on the accomplishments of Poles at home and here in America we distinguish a uniting language of traditions and customs, leading us into the future. As Americans, with pride, we take this path and continue to build upon the rich American heritage – as Polonia, we pass on this uniting language onto future generations in hope that it will, in turn, unite them.
Each year, the Polish American Congress of Arizona, selects a theme for the Polish Heritage Ball. This year, aside from celebrating Poland’s independence, regained in 1918, we recognize the 1050th anniversary of Poland’s Baptism. It marks a fundamental point in building a new cultural reality in the young country, one shared by Western European states.
As we remember our roots, we would like to celebrate those who donate their time to help preserve our heritage. This year we would like to present only one Distinguished Service Award. It goes to a man who has become the face of the Polish Community in Arizona. In addition to running an organization called Polish Cultural Events, which ensures that artistic and cultural activities are always part of the Polish social life, he volunteers his time to be the presenter and host of most events in our community.
Distinguished Service Award goes to Mr. Janusz Jachimek for his commitment to the Polish community through his years of outstanding service as a board member and Vice President of the Polish American Congress of Arizona and for his dedication to volunteer work serving many Polish-American organizations and groups.
Going forward, we need the patronage and involvement of all Polish Americans and friends of the Polish community. Only with each other’s support can we thrive and ensure that our history, culture and traditions are not only sustained but also recognized and respected. Your presence at tonight’s event goes a long way towards helping achieve our goals. We thank you for your attendance and sincerely hope you have a wonderful evening.
Ewa Grabowski, Ph.D.
President – Polish American Congress of Arizona