I was deeply moved by Father Lawrence Ventline’s remembrance in this issue of Father Frank Skalski, one of the greatly generous and wonderful members of Polonia who passed away last year. Father Skalski was one of those remarkable individuals who always had a kind word and a positive outlook, and was a natural leader who engaged those around him to be highly productive in carrying out good works. Father Ventline’s description of Father Skalski’s penchant for whistling cheerfully while he went about his business is such an apt portrayal of the man’s character… it brought a tear to my eye.

In the news from Poland, I noticed the item describing the celebration of the one millionth visiting tourist to the salt mines of Wieliczka. As I read the article, I remembered that I was among those one million visitors, having toured the mines along with my mother and my brother Frank some years ago on one of the most memorable trips of my life. The mines are truly a marvel, and I wonder if they are still playing concerts and basketball in the deep underground chambers we experienced.

I really got a kick out of the report that Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America, may have actually been the son of exiled Polish King Vladislav III and a Portuguese noblewoman. I can’t wait to spring this on some of my friends of Italian lineage! According to the report elsewhere in this issue, Portuguese Historian Manuel Rosa is working on a follow up project to conclusively prove his theory through DNA testing. The results may prove controversial, but I am anxious to find out.

This week we have a book review of “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin,” a book by Timothy Snyder telling the story of mass murder, genocide and oppression perpetrated by the Nazi and Stalin governments in Eastern Europe. This also reminded me of my visit to Poland, which included a stop to see the Auschwitz death camp which is, to be sure, the Auschwitz Nazi death camp. You will appreciate the comment in this issue’s Publisher’s note concerning the growing success of the Kościuszko Foundation’s campaign to ensure that places like the Auschwitz death camp are properly identified as Nazi camps, and not “Polish” death camps as often misstated by ignorant mass media.

The very positive report on business opportunities in Poland renews my confidence in the prospect of economic recovery here in America. Let’s all have a great year in 2011!

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