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May 18, 2024

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Polish Heritage Month Celebration In October

Hamtramck, Mich. – Polish ancestry remains at the heart of this two square-mile town. While Polish and Polish American residents are in the minority now, even those who have moved away years ago remember their family history being firmly planted here.

For the Piast Institute in Hamtramck, October is synonymous with being celebrated as Polish American Heritage Month. Founded 20 years ago, the Piast Institute is a national research and policy center for Polish and Polish American Affairs. In addition, it is an official Census Information Center designated by the U.S. Census Bureau. It advocates Polish heritage and culture year-round through organizing events and ongoing programs. This includes Polish language and the Seal of Biliteracy promotion, and assisting to carry on the Dekaban- Liddle Foundation work to support Polish scholars in their studies.

The first celebration of Polish American Heritage Month was organized by Michael Blicharz, the president of the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia in 1981. Three years later the House Joint Resolution 577 passed, making August Polish American Heritage Month. President Ronald Reagan urged all Americans to join in the celebration honoring Polish heritage in the United States.

The month was moved to October in 1986 to enable participating schools in organizing events during the school year. The change also commemorated the first Polish settlers to Jamestown, Virginia – October 1,1608, as well as the deaths of General Kazimierz Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko, military leaders who fought in the American Revolution.

Several landmarks depict the major influence of Poles in Hamtramck: St. Florian Roman Catholic Church with Masses said in Polish, St. Ladislaus Chapel, the statue of St. John Paul II to the city, and  the Kosciuszko Middle School perpetuate the legacy. The Hamtramck Historical Museum pays tribute to Polish heritage and culture with eye-catching exhibits of bygone eras, including a Polish Hamtramck-themed mural, created by muralist Dennis Orlowski, alongside those of other nationalities.

To reflect the change in the city’s demographics over the years, the city’s motto has been transformed. From “Hamtramck, A Touch of Europe in America,” the transition has been made to “Hamtramck, The World in Two Square Miles.” Let’s all celebrate.