FAMILY, FAITH AND FORTITUDE
The opening line of the Polish national anthem proudly declares "Jeszcze Polska Nie Zginela… Poland has not yet perished."
In fact, Poland actually did cease to exist between 1795 and 1918, and it was during this time that many Poles emigrated to the United States, largely to the Midwest urban centers of Detroit and Chicago. The peak year of Polish immigration was 1912 with more than 170,000 Polish immigrants arriving on the shores of the United States. Most, of course, were attracted by the jobs available in the building of railroads, the paving of streets, and the Midwest’s rapidly expanding manufacturing industries.
Today about 850,000 ethnic Poles live near Detroit, many in and around Hamtramck. Statewide, one and a half million Michiganians claim Polish heritage.
With unflagging loyal and devotion to the land of their adoption, Detroit Poles still cling tenaciously to their long and revered Catholic cultural heritage. As exemplified by Reverend Joseph Dabrowski (one of the foremost spiritual, social, and educational Polish leaders of American history), Detroit-area Polish American organizations, churches, and other institutions serve as the bulwarks of the old culture and equally, help newly-arriving immigrants adjustment by easy steps into the American way of life.