May 3 was Polish Constitution Day. My aunt will have a Polish flag outside to commemorate it. I won't. Not because I don't appreciate whence I come. I really do. I'm just not the flag-waving type.
Both my parents were native-born Chicagoans of Polish descent. They were proletarian people who were proud of their lineage and heritage. I am too. Though I never was indoctrinated in it like I was in my religion. I remember hearing Polish spoken occasionally around the house. Especially when my mother didn't want us to know what was being said. I picked up very little. St. Pancratius stopped teaching it when I was in first grade. Tak (yes), dobrze (good). dziekuje (thank you), co (what?) and a sprinkling of others. Of course, I became familiar with a few swear words that we later found out to mean 'duck's blood" and 'cholera'. And that vulgar punctuation of contempt: 'Kiss my a**'. So I don't claim Polish as a second language.
Nevertheless, I've always felt good about being Polish. The Poles have much to be proud about. They are a people of faith; they celebrated a few years back a millenium of Christianity. They are a valiant heroic breed. Under John Sobieski they stood up against the Turks at Vienna and saved Christendom in Europe.
The Poles are a sensitive, cultured people. They have produced myriads of artists, writers, composers, and intellectuals. Chopin, Paderewski, and Karol Woytyla (alias Pope John Paul II) come to mind. So why all those nasty spiteful Polish jokes? Funny or not, they're the epitome of injustice and an absolute distortion of reality . And is there a more industrious sweat-of-the brow working people than the Poles?
So on Polish Constitution day here's to the Polish nation, and to all Polish people, whoever and wherever they are. Mankind has been enriched, elevated and ennobled by them. And will continue to be.