Polish League of American Veterans
Occasionally, the mark of a true hero is modesty.
We encountered that many times during our Sunday shoot at the General George S. Patton P.L.A.V (Polish League of American Veterans), Post #11. These incredible seniors survived some of the worst that World War II had to offer, and now in their eighties, they appear to a man be to humble about their sacrifices… sacrifices that in many ways, insured freedom to our generation.
Take Matthew Ceglarz, whose wounds received in the battle of Montecasino are still obvious, sixty-plus years later, on his hands and face. Or Stanley Kwiatkowski, survivor of a Nazi-run Polish prison.
And through it all, Colonel Chester Szczotka (U.S. Army), who was too young for World War II, nods deferentially to the men who fought—often through conscription—and pays his own homage to them.
These monthly gatherings at the PLAV Hall, are comprised of men who fought both in the United States and the Polish army, are also accompanied by wives, children, grandchildren. They are undertaken with solemnity, but good cheer. A libation or two is definitely called for, and a spread of cold cuts, coffee and sweets is provided the relatives, but the focus of these meetings is essentially the veterans—as the years pass, their dwindling numbers make each get-together more valuable than the last.
In fact, we heard about the gatherings from Angela Pawlowski, granddaughter of Walter Rzeznik, who at ninety-three was feeling under the weather on the sleet-filled day that we attended, but whom we hope to interview at the next meeting.
The stories that these gentlemen can tell are spectacular slices of world history, unparalleled in the most detailed war footage that can be found on television, and it will be our great honor to record them in the weeks to come.
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