Edward Pinkowski Honored with Pride of Polonia Award
at Doylestown, PA
(l. to r.) Edward Pinkowski, Msgr. Anthony Czarnecki,
Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba
(l. to r.) Teresa G. Wojcik, Teresa N. Wojcik, Walter Wojcik, (sitting) Edward Pinkowski
CEREMONY AFTER NOON MASS
On Sunday, August 23, 2009, at the conclusion of the 12:30 Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA -- concelebrated by Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba, Pauline Provincial Fr. Joseph Olczak, Pauline Prior Tadeusz Lizinczyk, Pauline fathers and priests serving in the Philadelphia archdiocese -- the Executive Board of the Polish Apostolate presented this years Pride of Polonia Award to Edward Pinkowski.
The Pride of Polonia Award was created by the Executive Board of the Polish Apostolate and is presented annually to honor individuals who have made a unique contribution to the life of American Polonia. Its first recipient, in 1992, was John Cardinal Krol. Past recipients include Walter Zachariasiewicz, Blanka Rosenstiel, and Polish American Congress president Edward Moskal.
Msgr. Anthony Czarnecki, head of the Polish Apostolate, from St. Josephs Basilica in Webster, MA, mentioned in the introductory remarks that Edward Pinkowski, who recently celebrated his 93rd birthday, had made an special contribution through his life-long carrier of research and writings about Polonia history. He emphasized how the award recipient had devoted much time to the study of the two primary Polish-American heroes, Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski, and also took steps to preserve the memory of their role in the American Revolution. The speaker ended by stating that "many of Edward Pinkowskis friends say that he was born with a picture of Casimir Pulaski in his hands."
At this point his excellency Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba, standing in for Adam Cardinal Maida, made a formal presentation of the award. He read the text on the plaque: "The National Polish Apostolate gratefully presents the Pride of Polonia award to Edward Pinkowski in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Polonia: journalistic accomplishments, humanitarian outreach and historical research. God Bless You. Szczesc Boze. Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine, Doylestown, PA, August 23, 2009."
Edward Pinkowski then made a few remarks in Polish thanking the committee, and continuing in English, added a few comments about the struggles and difficulties he faced in obtaining the proper historical mention for Poles who have been instrumental in the building of America. He said that perhaps all this was inspired by the fact during his very young years in Holyoke, MA, a calendar with the image of Casimir Pulaski hung over his crib. On conclusion of his speech he received a warm congratulatory ovation from the congregation.
Edward Pinkowski (center, sitting) with the Polish Folk Dancers.
EDWARD PINKOWSKI - BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Edward Pinkowski was born on August 12, 1916 to Polish immigrant parents in Holyoke, MA. He is a Polonia historian, author, and journalist.
When he was 14 years old, the family moved to the hard coal fields of Pennsylvania, where his father and grandfather previously worked in coal mines of the Mount Carmel area. There he started a writing career while still in high school. During World War II, he was a writer in the U.S. Navy and rose to the rank of Chief Specialist (X).
In 1967 he received the Kosciuszko Sesquicentennial Medal in Toronto from the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) for locating General Kosciuszko's last residence in America, saving it for the purpose of creating a national monument, and placing an historical marker at 3rd and Pine Streets in Philadelphia. In 1976 the house-museum opened as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial under the auspices of the National Park Service.
He was a member of the Philadelphia Historical Commission from 1969 to 1985, and earlier was president, for four years, of the Spring Garden Civic Association in Philadelphia and the first lay chairman of the nominating committee and vice president PAHA. He was chairman of the Ethnic Council and vice president of the Philadelphia 1976 Bicentennial Corporation. He is the oldest surviving male founder of the Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC), and the person who created the name of that local organization.
He erected a monument on Anthony Sadowski's grave 300 years after his birth and a roadside marker in Douglassville, PA. In 1989, he earned the Mieczyslaw Haiman Medal from PAHA "for outstanding Contribution in the field of Polish American studies." In 1997 the ACPC recognized his lifetime of contributions to research in Polish American history by awarding him the Distinguished Service Award.
In 1996 he proved that General Pulaski's remains were buried in a brick vault under the monument in Savannah and was recognized by the mayor of Savannah with a key to the city for literally rescuing Pulaski's remains. Over the years he devoted countless hours to research on Kosciuszko and Pulaski, not to mention hundreds of other figures, and is the author of several books and many articles.
In 2001 Edward Pinkowski was a recipient of the Cavalier's Cross of the Order of Merit (Krzyz Kawalerski Orderu Zaslugi RP) awarded by President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski. Among other awards in recognition for his work are the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2004) and the Kosciuszko Foundation medal (2006).
He lived in Philadelphia for most of his life with his wife Connie (Rosiello), before moving to Florida in 1998. His two sons, Jack and Jim, were born in the nation's capital during the war.
EDWARD PINKOWSKIS PREPARED REMARKS
I am deeply honored that you have chosen me, a humble son of immigrants who came from Poland about a century ago, as the 2009 recipient of the Pride of Polonia Award. As his Excellency Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba mentioned, I have been inspired by General Thaddeus Kosciuszko even since I can remember. But I assume that you would like to know how I spent my money and gave so much of it to Polish causes. Actually I didnt have any money until I started a bank account while I was in the U.S. Navy during Second World War.
Shortly after the war ended, because my wife and I wanted to be near our mothers, I moved with my wife and boys to Philadelphia where my mother kept a rooming house -- four houses from the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul and the final resting place of the first recipient of the Pride of Polonia award, John Cardinal Krol. One of my mothers roomers, a veteran of the First World War, who had never married, died. His next of kin would not bury him, either, because he left the Army after the war to visit his relatives in Poland without waiting for an honorable discharge. He was as poor as a church mouse. So I bought a cemetery lot and asked a Polish undertaker, Joseph Sekula, whose daughter followed in his footsteps, to bury him. It was probably the first significant act of giving in my life. Later I buried another man on top of the first one. Two for one. Sekula was also in charge of the second burial.
In looking back through my life, because Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba mentioned his name, General Kosciuszkos first will in 1798, which he scribbled on a piece of paper in a room at Third and Pine Streets in Philadelphia, stands out in bold relief to the burial of the two men. It is well known that Kosciuszko, in his will, wanted Thomas Jefferson to purchase freedom of slaves and establish a school to educate them, but did you know that it inspired Jefferson to establish the library of Congress. Again, two for one. Never before have I mentioned this to anyone.
If you dont mind, I would like to tell you the impact that the humanitarian from Poland had on all of us. Kosciuszko showed us how benevolent we can be. After months of investigation I discovered Kosciuszkos last residence in America where he write his first will and realized immediately that the house was worth saving. I didnt have enough money to buy it. Just $1,000 to spare! To buy the house I borrowed the rest from a Jewish woman in Atlantic City, whom my lawyer knew, and applied for the historical marker which you see now in front of the national memorial. One of the first persons to have his picture taken at the marker was John Cardinal Krol.
Little is known how often Jefferson, then vice-president of the United States, visited the historic residence to talk with Kosciuszko about foreign affairs and other matters. When Kosciuszko left the boarding house in 1798, he turned over his will and bank account to Jefferson. On March 11, 1808 when Jefferson was about to leave the White House, he borrowed 4,500 from Kosciuszko to pay a debt. Had either one died soon after, Kosciuszkos estate in America would have had no money to carry out his wishes.
Jeffersons debt had tremendous impact on Kosciuszkos legacy. In 1814 when the third president of the United States was 72 years old, he found an opportunity to discharge the debt. The British had destroyed the lIbrary of Congress during the War of 1812. Jefferson sold his library in Monticello to restore the Library of Congress and the original balance of Kosciuszkos bank account.
Had Kosciuszko and Jefferson not gotten together in the house I bought for a museum, none of the this history would have taken place.
Again I thank his Excellency Bishop Stanislaw Jan Dziuba and the Polish Apostolate for giving me this award. I will always treasure it.