News / USA

Chicago's Polish Community Mourns Victims of Plane Crash

Chicago is home to the largest Polish community outside of Warsaw.  Poles in that Midwestern city are mourning the loss of Poland's President and other national leaders who died in a plane crash near the Russian city of Smolensk over the weekend. 

For several months, the Polish American community here had been planning for President Lech Kaczynski's visit to the Windy City at the end of April.

But excitement for his visit has turned to sorrow in the wake of Saturday's plane crash.  Ninety-seven people, including the Polish president and first lady, and many senior members of the Warsaw government died when the presidential plane crashed in thick fog outside Smolensk.

An over capacity crowd gathered at St. Hyacinth's Basilica in Chicago for a Roman Catholic mass to mourn those who perished in the crash.

"Almost everyone in Chicago does have family in Poland, so the news spread immediately, mostly from Poland.  We got many calls," Zigmunt Matynia said. Matynia is Poland's Consul General in Chicago.

He says a wave of patriotism has descended on Chicago's Polish community in the wake of the tragedy. "As you can see right now, Chicago looks like a Polish city.  Every car has a flag.  Many Poles come -- not only Poles, but people who feel that it was a great tragedy comes to the Polish consulate."

Sebastian Rotiarski was one of the hundreds of mourners to visit the Polish consulate on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive.

"It's a sad an ironic day in the sense that we've lost so many great people, so many influential people, so many good people, that it's in every Polish person's heart today and yesterday, and for years to come, it's going to be a very painful and very memorable day.  So I just wanted to share the experience with others," he said.

Some mourners came to the consulate to lay flowers or wreaths at the base of a flagpole in the consulate's front yard.  The Polish flag above them flew at half-staff.

An activist and artist in Chicago's Polish community was among those who died in the crash.  Wojciech Seweryn created a monument in the Chicago suburbs to the victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre.

The plane carrying Seweryn and 96 others, including President Kaczynski, was en route to a ceremony in Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the massacre, in which Soviet forces killed some 22,000 Polish military officers and civilians leaders.

"Poland survived many difficult moments in history.  So this is another tragic moment.  But we will be stronger.  But this is the message I would like to spread through the community," Matynia said.

Matynia says she hopes the Polish Constitution Day Parade, scheduled for May 3 in Chicago's Grant Park, will be held as a sign of healing in a community that coming to terms with the loss of its home country's beloved leader.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid