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December 15, 2004 ...

Sgt. Cari Anne Gasiewicz laid to rest

Sgt. Cari Anne Gasiewicz, 28, of Cheektowaga, NY, who was killed Dec. 4 in Iraq, was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery on Dec. 13.
Sgt. Gasiewicz, was a sergeant in the Army's Military Intelligence Battalion, who spoke fluent Arabic. Just weeks before her expected return she was killed when her convoy vehicle ran over a land mine that was detonated just outside Baghdad.
Sgt. Gasiewicz had been awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Army Medal of Accommodation.
Her aunt and godmother, Barbara Funk, said at the eulogy Monday. "We will try to think of this as your last deployment. One more place you wish to serve, one more group of people you want to know, an additional foreign language you desire to learn. And Sgt. Cari Anne Gasiewicz, when you do master the language of the angels, and I know you will, remember to teach the rest of us."
Sgt. Gasiewicz graduated from Depew High School in 1994 and attended Canisius College for three years, before entering the military. She was an ROTC member at Canisius before enlisting.
Her basic training was at Fort Jackson, SC, before serving in Korea, attending the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, and then being sent to Iraq last January. She was stationed at Fort Gordon, GA.
She worked at Abu Ghraib as a member of the Army's Military Intelligence Battalion but was not deployed to Iraq until January, after the reported instances of improper treatment from the previous fall. Gasiewicz reportedly knew five or six Arabic dialects.
Her hobbies included golfing, swimming, skydiving, hiking, mountain climbing and skiing.
Surviving are her parents, Paul F. and Kathleen M. of Cheektowaga; a brother, Paul F. II of Cheektowaga

WNED TV's feature on Polonia will air next summer

Michael Conway
WNED-TV, Western New York's public broadcasting station, has announced that it will air an hour long documentary highlighting WNY's Polish-American community this coming summer.
Entitled "Polonia: Western New York's Polish American Community," the program will focus on the history, tradition, and culture of area Polonia through vintage and original footage, historical photos, and personal recollections and experiences.
The documentary will cover events from the last two decades of the 19th century when Polish immigrants left a divided Poland seeking a new life in America, to today's annual festivities such as the Pulaski Parade and Easter celebrations.
"The more research I did, the more appreciation I had for this community that was built and the people who fight to make sure these traditions continue," said Christy May, one of the show's producers. "There's a lot to showcase the community and where it stands now."
The program will begin by examining the beginning of the influx of the area's Polish immigrants, many of whom stopped in Buffalo only for a day or two before continuing west to cities such as Chicago and Detroit. That is until a local real estate developer donated land to the diocese in hopes that a church would be built and Poles would begin to settle in the area. Within three months of the dedication of St. Stanislaus Church, 400 homes were erected in the area and with the help of Fr. Jan Pitass, it became home to a proud community where tradition and culture thrived.
The documentary will continue by exploring the religious aspect of the Polish community, the backbone of traditions and celebrations. The formation of 24 parishes to serve the Am-Pol community, parish schools, and the work of the Felician and Franciscan Sisters in founding Villa Maria College and Hilbert College, respectively, as well as other valuable organizations will be highlighted.
Additionally, the program will spotlight the election of Pope John Paul II and appointment of Bishop Edward U. Kmiec and the sense of pride it brought to Polish Catholics locally as well as globally. WNED will capture celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, the largest events in the Catholic calendar, by showing wigilia festivities and the Broadway Market as it explodes each spring as the focal point of Easter preparations.
The program will conclude by showcasing the traditions that were brought to Polonia by the early immigrants that continue to thrive today. Organizations such as the Polish Saturday School in Cheektowaga are helping people both young and old learn about Polish tradition and reconnect with the language and culture of their parents and grandparents.
The Pulaski Parade, a model of Polish pride, will also be shown in the program as it travels down Harlem Rd. with its many floats, bands, and dancers marching in front of an audience of thousands lining the streets.
In its segment on Polish pride, the documentary will recall Polish contributions in the fields of music, astronomy, literature, science, and religion by such people as Chopin, Paderewski, Copernicus, Adam Mickiewicz, Madame Sklodowska-Curie, and Pope John Paul II.
May said the inspiration for the program came from a documentary that aired several years ago on PBS, which highlighted Polish American history throughout the U.S.
Funding for the documentary came in the form of grants from St. Stanislaus Church, the local chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation along with support from the members of WNED.

December 03, 2004 ...

History Detectives get a history lesson

PAC Anti-Bigotry Committee
It's hard to think of any other country whose history has been as distorted and misrepresented as Poland's. The Nazis specialized in spreading falsehoods about their enemies during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. Then the Soviet communists continued the anti-Polish propaganda in the Cold War that followed Hitler's defeat and their takeover of Poland.
After so many years of truth twisting, it's no wonder some of the worst allegations about Poland have filtered down to the present time, according to the Anti-Bigotry Committee of the Polish American Congress. Even the experts on the Public Broadcasting System's History Detectives were unable to distinguish fact from fiction when Poland?s history came up on one of their recent episodes.
"But at least they had the decency to admit they made a mistake and apologize to us after we told them they were wrong," said Frank Milewski who heads the anti-bias unit of the Congress. The producers of the PBS program also assured him they were extracting the error from their master tapes so "it is not repeated in future episodes."
The error to be extracted blames Poland as the one responsible in 1898 for inducing Jews like Harry Warner of the Warner Bros. Inc. movie empire to migrate from there to escape anti-Semitism and pogroms.
"The fact is Poland did not exist as a nation in 1898," the Anti-Bigotry Committee told PBS. "It had not existed as such since 1795 after it had forcibly been annexed by Germany (Prussia), Czarist Russia and Austria. It did not appear again as a nation until after World War I ended in 1918.
"Everyone living on the territory of what was known as Poland before 1795 became a citizen of either Germany, Russia or Austria. Whether Christian or Jewish, they lost their independence to these foreign occupiers who were now in full control of their destiny.
"If the Warner family fled that area in 1898, so did many non-Jewish individuals and families who likewise suffered the hardships and indignities of foreign domination and repression.
"The anti-Semitic pogroms conducted in the lands that Russia absorbed into itself were conducted by the Russians. Pogroms were an exclusively Russian invention which the Russians frequently employed against those they made subservient.
"It is wrong and injurious for the History Detectives to imply the Polish people, subjugated and controlled by the same foreign forces as were the Jews, bear the responsibility for these racial actions."

Danelski followed her dream to perform at Radio City Music Hall

Glenn Gramigna
The recent 37-show run of the world famous Rockettes at Shea's Performing Arts Center was an impressive tour de force for the 22 young women who starred in it, filled with eye popping beauty and incredible precision. Still, the dancers themselves, including 22-year-old Lancaster native Laura Danelski, know that what it's really all about is a lot of hard work and dedication, beginning with a two day audition which few contenders survive.
"It is pretty intense," recalls Danelski. "It's two full days of tap, jazz, and kick lines. There were hundreds of women at the start and by the end of the two days it was down to ten. I was just fortunate enough to be one of those ten."
Of course, Danelski's road to selection as a Rockette had been preceded by an even longer journey that took her from tap enthusiast at the age of three to professional dance contender in her teens and early 20s.
"I started taking dance when I was only three years old and really fell I in love with tap right away," she recalls. "I continued to study at the Pat Taylor School of Dance in Lancaster and just kept getting better all the time."
A personal highlight of her quest came at the age of 12 when she first mounted the stage of Radio City Music Hall in New York City at the behest of her parents.
"I waited until everyone had left and then went up there on the stage so my dad could take a picture," she recalls. "I set the goal then that someday I would be up on that stage as a Rockette."
She achieved a more tangible milestone soon after when as a young teen she danced away with a bronze medal in solo jazz performance at the New York Dance Olympics. After that there was no stopping her.
"When I was 16, I began studying at the David DeMarie Dance Studio and then I was accepted at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where I graduated last May with a degree in modern dance."
From college it was a direct line to the Rockettes for her as she has seemed to thrive on the enormously challenging work of a member of the world famous dance troupe.
How do she and her colleagues keep up with the demands of a Rockette regimen that mandates total physical perfection throughout a 90 minute show that's often repeated several times a day?
"I guess it?s just a lot of hard work and practice," she replies. "Also, it's something you just have to love. I have wanted to be a professional dancer all my life. Now that I'm doing it, it?s such a great thrill for me, especially this chance I have had to perform in front of my family and friends in the Buffalo area."
At the same time, Danelski is not neglecting her precious Polish heritage either.
'My family has always observed all of the Polish customs during holidays,' she notes. 'It is something I have always enjoyed and hope to continue myself."

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