Wikipedia’s lists nearly 2000 Poles who have left their mark on the world. They include six Nobel Prize winners, numerous Oscar winners, two NASA astronauts, 104 poets and 14 saints. On the sinners side are four assassins; the most notorious is Leon Czrologasz, of Detroit. He took out President William McKinley.
· History records King John III Sobieski as one of the greatest military leaders. In the one-day battle where Sobieski and his troops were outnumbered ten to one, he defeated the Turks in the Battle of Vienna on September 12, 1683. Poland and Vienna was spared and the Turks never bothered them again. (Read how they did it in “Angel of Tears.”)
· Madame Maria Currie won two Nobel Prizes; she discovered the radioactive properties of radium and polonium. Sadly, she died of leukemia, caused by exposure to penetrating radiation.
· Classical composer, pianist and teacher, Fredrick Chopin, established a Polish national style of music; he wrote a prolific number of polonaises, mazurkas, etudes, and preludes.
· The entertainment field lists over two dozen film directors and producers, including Roman Polanski and Samuel Goldman. Maybe it’s because we are good at telling people what to do and where to go.
· More than 100 musicians include Big Band drummer Gene Kruppa, Conductor Leopold Stokowski, and Ray Manzarek of The Doors.
· Two Nobel Prize winners for literature went to Henry Sienkiewicz, author of “Quo Vadis”, and Władysław Stanisław Reymont‘s four-book series “Peasants” was translated into 27 languages.
· Polish fictional characters we are not likely to forget are Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, and more recently Walter Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) in “Gran Torino”.
· Josef Casimir Hofmann was a composer of over 100 musical works. He also held 70 patents, including one for pneumatic shock absorbers, a furnace that burned crude oil, and a house that revolved with the sun.
· Stephen Gary “woz” Wozniak, single-handedly created April I and Apple II computers. He, along with Steve Jobs and Ron Wayne, founded Apple Computer.
· Other business successes include Max Factor and Helena Rubenstein.
· Jan Kulczyk , the Richest Poles for 2010, was worth $2.1 Billion.
· Sports greats include:
o Andrzej Golata, the most famous Polish boxer, and International Boxing Hall of Famer, Charley Golman.
o Robert Korzenlowski won four Olympic Gold Medals for walking.
o And what about Hockey’s Wayne Gretzky, and Detroit’s Gordie Howe?
· Of the 28 Holocaust Resisters listed was Irene Sadler who saved 2,500 Jewish children during World War II.
· The most widely recognized Pole was Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. He touched the hearts of millions of people of all faiths and is best known as the most down-to-earth human being.
Nobody will ever call these people “Dumb Polacks”. Know your heritage and extol it.