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Poland is America's most loyal ally. Polish Americans have said that for many years. Actually, for decades. To be more precise, for centuries.

The latest Polish American to say it is a member of the Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress. He's Alex Storozynski who also happens to be editor-in-chief of New York City's newest newspaper, amNew York.

Storozynski was on the editorial board of the New York Daily News until he came to amNew York this autumn. Alex knows what he's talking about because he was a Pulitzer Prize winning member of the News' editorial board when he was on its staff.

Here's what Storozynski wrote in his January 6th editorial on Poland titled FREEDOM FIGHTERS:

One of the greatest ironies in the war on terrorism is the way the United States treats its most loyal ally. Before the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denounced France and Germany as the "old Europe" because they tried to derail American efforts to oust Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld praised the "new Europe" that supported the U.S. - the cornerstone of which is Poland.

But even though Poland is loyal enough to be part of NATO and send troops to Iraq, Polish citizens still need visas to come to the U.S., while citizens of the "old Europe" do not.

Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said that foreigners arriving in the U.S. must be fingerprinted and photographed on arrival. However, there's an exemption for 27 countries whose people can come to this country without visas. French and German citizens go through the E-ZPass lane at American borders, while Poles must wait months and even years for visas.

This is no way to treat this country's most loyal ally. That's right - most loyal ally. While some claim Great Britain deserves that title, remember, when President Bush traveled to London in November, it took 14,000 Bobbies to keep the Brits away from him. He was heckled by protesters and attacked in the British press.

When Bush visited Krakow in May, Poles welcomed him with open arms. As a result, French President Jacques Chirac threatened to block Poland's entry into the European Union.

Like Britain, Poland also sent troops to Iraq. Poland sent its elite commando unit, GROM, which means thunder. It helped secure the port at Umm Qasr, which was vital to delivering aid to Iraq. The unit also secured nearby oil platforms before they could be sabotaged. In this new phase of the war, Iraq has been divided into three zones: American, British and Polish. GROM and regular Polish units helped in the search for Saddam and his loyalists.

The Polish troops receive high marks from American military officers. One U.S. special forces commander was quoted in Jane's Intelligence Review saying that GROM's founder, Gen. Slawomir Petelicki, was a cross between "James Bond and Rambo wrapped neatly into one daunting package".

In the first Gulf War, Polish intelligence officers snuck into Iraq to rescue a group of CIA operatives trapped behind enemy lines. Poland's secret agents disguised CIA agents as Polish construction workers and smuggled them out of Baghdad.

This was not the first time Polish soldiers risked their lives for our freedom. Generals Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko were two of the first foreigners to fight in the American Revolution. Kosciuszko designed and oversaw the construction of West Point. After that, he returned to Poland, where he led a democratic uprising. As a result of that fight, Poland had the first written democratic constitution in Europe, second in the world only to the U.S.

Over the centuries Poland has proven its dedication to freedom and friendship for America. It's time for the U.S. to lift the visa requirements for its most faithful ally.

Contact: Frank Milewski - (718) 263-2700


Apel Do Polonii - luty 2014


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