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Senator Murphy Honored
On Polish Constitution Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A few hundred guests descended upon the Residence of the Ambassador here on May 20, 2016 at the invitation of Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf to celebrate the 225th Anniversary of Poland’s historic May 3rd Constitution of 1791 – Konstyucja Trzeciego Maja. The all-inclusive guest list comprised members of the U.S. Government, Congress and armed forces, the Washington diplomatic corps and its military attaches, NGO’s, many luminaries, and the American Polonia. Professor Andrzej Rzeplinski, Poland’s President of the Constitutional Tribunal, visiting Washington, was also in attendance.

Photo: Order of Merit Bestowed.   U.S. Senator Chris Murphy being awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf.

Ambassador Schnepf warmly welcomed the guests and paid due homage to the May 3rd Constitution that was modeled on the earlier U.S. Constitution of 1787. Poland’s revolutionary Constitution championed the avant-garde concept of freedom and democracy for the common man – heretofore an alien political concept, which also attracted the collective ire of the ruling crowned-heads of Europe.

Ambassador Schnepf’s remarks centered on the NATO alliance and its upcoming summit in Warsaw this July, noting that the summit will determine Europe’s security and that of all its member states, adding that “America’s presence in Europe is vital for our future and security.” The Ambassador thanked the American Administration and Congress for undertaking decisions to bolster NATO’s eastern flank and deploying the U.S. military Poland, adding that “We must make NATO stronger in regards to threats from the East as well as from other directions.”

Obviously saddened, Ambassador Schnepf expressed his pressing disappointment that Poles continue to have to obtain visas to travel to the United States. “We will not cease from our efforts (to right the wrong) especially since many members of the U.S. Administration and Congress support our efforts.” He emphatically underscored that “Poles deserve equal treatment.”

DSC05308forweb    Proudly wearing his sparkling Order of Merit just awarded by the hand of Ambassador Schnepf, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the government and people of Poland. “My mother is going to cry when I bring it back home … Although my name is Murphy I have much more Polish blood than Irish. My maternal great-grandparents came from a very small town in southern Poland and eventually settled in New Britain, Connecticut. My Polish paternal great grandparents also settled there … I am the story of Poland, and I am the story of Polonia” Murphy proudly proclaimed.

Senator Murphy agreed that the U.S. Visa Waiver Program’s exclusion of Poland is “discriminatory treatment” and not a point of pride for the U.S., and that as a friend of Poland he will continue to undertake efforts to change this current state of affairs. At the conclusion of his remarks, and referencing the imminent critical NATO summit in Warsaw, Senator Murphy stated that “America is committed to NATO’s future and we will strive to protect it from those who would undo it from the inside or outside.”

The formalities concluded with Ambassador Schnepf’s “let’s party” celebratory declaration, and the guests proceeded to do just that for the rest of the pleasant evening in fitting tribute to Poland’s historic humanitarian 1791 Constitution and NATO solidarity.

Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, D.C. Bureau
June 11, 2016