Post Eagle Newspaper


Sep 24, 2023

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Honoring A Cadet From Poland


Cadet Szymon Marcinow is an exchange student from Poland who will graduate in May from West Point after having spent four years at the Military Academy. In the past, West Point has had exchange students from many countries. When my husband graduated in 1970, his roommate was from Nicaragua. Having international students at West Point brings tremendous value to cadets who will become officers and fight in a globally diverse environment.

In photo on right:  Cadet Szymon Marcinow and Betsey Blakeslee

Lieutenant Szymon Marcinow will begin a masters degree in national security in Poland when he returns to his country this summer. Unlike American cadets who have a five year obligation to the military, Szymon will have a twelve year military obligation. Because of sequester, the exchange program with international cadets at West Point was rumored to be in danger of being cut. High level sources at West Point, however, have indicated these programs will continue.

Poland has been a staunch ally of the United States ever since the American Revolution. They sent troops to fight alongside us in every engagement in which we have fought since the overthrow of communism in Poland was achieved by striking workers in 1980. In addition, this past weekend The American Association for the Friends of Kosciuszko at West Point honored Thaddeus Kosciuszko and his extraordinary contributions to the American Revolution, as it does every year. The parade on The Plain is dedicated to Kosciuszko and to the work he did to design and build the fortifications at West Point, considered “the key to America” by General Washington.  Kosciuszko’s fortifications at the Battle of Saratoga contributed greatly to our victory there as well. It was that victory that convinced the French that we could win the war against England and they joined our efforts.

As the next European powerhouse, Poland currently has the strongest economy in Europe. Sadly, this staunch ally, who has sent troops to fight with us in Iraq and Afghanistan, has yet to be granted visa waiver status. Countries who have this status include Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Portugal and many others. President Obama committed in 2010 to have Poland granted this status but nothing has happened.

Clearly we owe it to the country of Poland, Kosciuszko’s homeland, and to Cadet Marcinow, and to the many Polish citizens who endured Nazi occupation and who bravely overthrew communism, to grant them visa waiver status. To not do so is a continuing insult to this dedicated ally. It is also an insult to the memory of Kosciuszko whom cadets memorialized in 1828 by paying for and erecting the monument you see in this photo. This memorial to a Polish and American citizen, Kosciuszko, sits prominently and majestically on The Plain at West Point and reminds us to value our true and proven friends.

By Betsey Blakeslee
– Monday, April 29, 2013

Betsey Blakeslee is a Volunteer Project Manager
Kosciuszko’s Garden and Flirtation Walk at West Point