Observations by Michael A. Szymanski

There is much to comment on this week, but it breaks my heart to learn that we have lost another luminary among the bright stars that make up Detroit’s Polish American community. Noreen Smialek – Sinclair was the driving force behind the annual Chopiniana celebration that was always a showcase for Polish culture. Thanks to Barbara Gronet’s contribution this week, you can learn more about Noreen’s life in music and promotion of Polish heritage in the article on page 5.

On page 6 you will find an article on the Yalta conference which took place 65 years ago this week. To the general American public, the conference is famous, but to Poles and Polish Americans it is infamous because it was a key event in a continuing process that resulted in Poland being “sold out” by its allies, America and Great Britain, who virtually delivered Poland into Communism by their inaction in the face of Soviet ambitions during and immediately after World War II. To understand the significance of what transpired at the conference, I highly recommend the book “A Question of Honor” by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud. Parts of the book, which is a great “read” in its entirety, give a very comprehensive behind the scenes look at the Yalta conference and related events as they affected the fate of Poland.

Thomas Mikulski renders us another insightful look at the role Polonia could play in the context of the divisive, polarized political climate that now exists in America (page 4). Reading his words, I can’t help but think of the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down limitations on corporate and union campaign contributions. The highly partisan vote of the Supreme Court Justices in the case of Citizens United vs. F.E.C. has overturned the long standing ban on corporation contributions to political campaigns. This radical decision is contrary to long established precedent and virtually puts our political offices up for sale to corporate interests. The reason I am reminded of this by Mikulski’s article is that the current speculation is that the new campaign finance environment seems calculated to insure that the biggest campaign contributions will go to candidates who have an agenda to impose on behalf of special interests, rather than to those who will look to solving our problems by working in a cooperative way with everyone involved and finding a middle ground. It is my personal opinion, but this is just wrong.

Always searching for a ray of hope, I am very grateful for Kasia Ostrowski’s article on page 8 about the new William Beaumont School of Medicine to be established by Oakland University. It is heartening to think of the benefits in terms of new jobs and new resources that this institution could bring to the area, and it is great to think that there are leaders who will go ahead with such a new project in our current economic climate.

One Response to “Observations by Michael A. Szymanski

  • I ran into Noreen a couple of years ago at Kinko’s in Sterling Heights. She was running off programs for Chopiniana. My father and her were cooperating on Polish events at the International Institute back in the day. Her Polish pride and true love of Polish music was exemplary. I was saddened to just learn of her passing.
    I will miss her.

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