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Jun 12, 2024

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over 100 people assembled here in the theatre of the imposing Saint John Paul II National Shrine on April 15, 2018 to commemorate the 8th anniversary of the catastrophic Smolensk-Katyn airplane crash. The event was held under the auspices of Ambassador Piotr Wilczek and organized by Jolanta Chojecka – First Counselor of the Culture, Science and Information Office, in collaboration with the Polish American Congress. Preceding the formal remembrance event was a dedicated mass in the integral Redemptory Hominis Church.

PHOTO: “A Lady” Documentary. Director Maria Dluzewska, left, is depicted with interpreter Professor Iwona B. Sadowska during the Q&A session after the screening of a documentary film about First Lady Maria Kaczynska, wife of President Lech Kaczynski.

     “Aboard the presidential aircraft there were 96 individuals: men and women, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They came from across the political spectrum and represented different faith groups. They were members of civil society and distinguished military leaders. They all had a story, they were all filled with aspirations and accomplishments. Perhaps most importantly they were all united in their love of country, in their sense of mission and their dedication to the memory of our forefathers” intoned Ambassador Piotr Wilczek during his heartfelt opening remarks in memory of the dearly departed Polish patriots, and especially that of President Lech Kaczynski and First Lady Maria Kaczynska.

     On this occasion everyone was fortunate enough to be intimately introduced to First Lady Maria Kaczynska and her fascinating life and many accomplishments – especially being that the wife of a president is often overshadowed by her husband. The medium of introduction effectively employed was the presented documentary film “A Lady” (‘Dama’ in Polish) by director Maria Dluzewska, with English voice-overs. The companion book “Dama” was also available for sale and signing by author Dluzewska.

     Director Dluzewska was the guest of honor at the afternoon’s event. After the screening of “A Lady” she spoke in her native Polish with Georgetown University Professor Iwona B. Sadowski acting as her interpreter. A very interesting Q&A session ensued concerning the many and varied aspects and topics of Maria Kaczynska’s life and times, from her early childhood until her untimely death.

     The dedicated mass and program were both a most fitting tribute to all 96 souls aboard the ill-fated aircraft who tragically died by the capricious hand of fate scattered on a field in Smolensk, Russia on April 10, 2010. They were traveling to the Katyn Forest to honor the thousands of Polish victims murdered there during the spring of 1940 by the USSR/Russians during World War II.

Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
April 7, 2018