December 8, 2006


On Tuesday, December 5th, the Polish American Congress (PAC) hosted a Polish American Congressional Tribute – an appreciation ceremony during which forty U.S. Senators and Representatives were honored for their active involvement in legislative initiatives to benefit Polish Americans and Poland during the second session of the 109 th Congress. The PAC presented the selected legislators with a token of appreciation – a special volume showcasing private "Polish Art Collections in America".

The following legislators were honored in the U.S. Senate:

Richard Durbin (D-IL)
William Frist (R-TN)
Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Barack Obama (D-IL)
George V. Voinovich (R-OH).

Honored in the U.S. House of Representatives were:

Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU)
Dan Burton (R-IN)
Joseph Crowley (D-NY)
Jo Ann Davis (R-VA)
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
John D. Dingell (D-MI)
Rahm Emanuel (D-IL)
Phil English (R-PA)
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
Brian Higgins (D-NY)
Tim Holden (D-PA)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)
  Tom Lantos (D-CA)
James Leach (R-IA)
Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
Michael R. McNulty (D-NY)
Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ)
Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ)
Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL)
John Shimkus (R-IL)
Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ)
Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN)
Diane E. Watson (D-CA)
Robert Wexler (D-FL).

All of the honored Members of Congress were selected based on their involvement as sponsors or cosponsors in legislative initiatives of benefit to Polish Americans and Poland. These initiatives included corresponding efforts by both the House and the Senate (the inclusion of Poland in the Visa Waiver Program, a US-Poland Parliamentary Youth Exchange Program, Honorary Citizenship for General Pulaski, Resolution recognizing the accomplishments of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Resolution recognizing the 25th anniversary of strikes in Poland in 1980 and the birth of Solidarity). The specific initiative in the U.S. Senate was a resolution designating December 13, 2006 as a Day of Remembrance; while in the U.S. House, those included: The Congressional Poland Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Central and Eastern Europe, and Support for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

Attending the event, to personally accept an award from the President of the Polish American Congress, Mr. Frank Spula, who together with the National Executive Director, Mr. Les Kuczynski, flew in from Chicago for the occasion, were: Representatives Shelley Berkley, Rahm Emanuel, Paul Kanjorski, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Daniel Lipinski, Janice Schakowsky, and Paul Visclosky. Other honorees, who could not participate in person, were represented by their staff members.

The reception held on Capitol Hill attracted a hundred plus gathering composed of: Members of U.S. Congress, representatives of the diplomatic community, including His Excellency Janusz Reiter of the Embassy of Poland, H.E. András Simonyi, the Ambassador of Hungary and Dr. Kornelija Jurgaitiene, Charge d'Affaires a.i. of Lithuania to the United States and Mexico. Present also were officers of the Polish American Congress, including representatives of the National Executive Committee: Mr. Anthony Bajdek, VP for American Affairs, Mr. Jerzy Rozalski, VP for Public Affairs, Mr.Ludwik Wnekowicz, VP for Polish Affairs (who also donated all of the book-awards), and Mr. Wallace Zielinski, Secretary; members of the PAC Washington Metropolitan Area Division; representatives of the Central East European Coalition, as well as many other friends of Polonia and Poland.

Earlier that day, the delegation of the Polish American Congress led by President Frank Spula, accompanied by Mr. Les Kuczynski and Dr. Barbara B. Andersen, Director of Research in the PAC Washington Office, met in private meetings with Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Chuck Hagel, and with Representative Daniel Lipinski. The meetings covered issues of the greatest concern to the Polish American Congress and Polonia, such as the inclusion of Poland in the Visa Waiver Program, immigration problems, promotion of trade of goods from Poland, and double taxation of retired Polish Americans who moved to Poland.

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