Valley Polish group plans to relocate veterans monument



Leaders of the Mahoning Valley’s Polish-American community are seeking a new and accessible location for the Polish War Veterans Memorial.

The memorial now sits outside the vacant former Krakusy Hall on South Avenue, surrounded by high weeds and litter.

They are also seeking to raise at least the $2,500 it will cost to move the monument, which weighs several tons, insure it during the move, and install a new foundation, said Lisa Lotze, a member of Polish Youngstown, a local umbrella group for various Polish-American churches and lodges.

To add a new flagpole, U.S. and Polish flags, and night lighting for the flags and to create a fund for the monument’s future maintenance, a total of $5,000 would be ideal, Lotze said.

To date, about $1,700 has been raised from Polish veterans’ groups, said John Cyngier of Cleveland, commander of the Polish Army Veterans Association of America, District 9.

Cyngier, a survivor of the Polish underground resistance during World War II and of a Nazi slave labor camp, is coordinating fundraising among veterans’ groups.

The 7-foot-high marble monument, engraved in Polish and dedicated in November 1970, is in honor of Polish veterans of World Wars I and II.

Surviving members of PAVA Post 4, which sponsored the monument 40 years ago, are Adam Baran of New Springfield and Jan Bogatek of Poland, Ohio.

Diamond Steel Construction Co. is donating the use of a crane to lift the monument, and O.T. Beight & Sons Inc., a memorial company, is donating its rigging services to safely move the monument, Lotze said. Both companies are based in Boardman.

Inscribed in the top of the monument is the crowned eagle — the Polish national symbol. “Honor to God, the Father,” is inscribed in Polish just below the eagle.

Beneath that, the wording translates to: “Honor and respect to soldiers, Polish heroes and heroines killed on different fronts during the First and Second Great Wars for Poland’s honor and freedom.”

“This monument represents the sacrifices given,” said Aundrea Cika of Liberty, director of Polish Youngstown.

“It’s important that we remember it [the sacrifice veterans made] and that we can pass this on to our children and pass our heritage down,” said Marianne Poprik of Poland, Ohio, Polish Youngstown’s community outreach coordinator.

“Because the monument is so special in what it signifies, we want it to be more accessible so people are able to go and see it,” preferably in a group of other veterans’ memorials in or near Youngstown, Lotze said, explaining the rationale for moving it.

The Krakusy Society, a local Polish-American fraternal and social organization, sold the building behind the monument several years ago and now meets elsewhere. A rusty, unused flagpole stands behind the monument.

Cyngier, 81, said he wants to see the monument relocated to “a proper place and a safe place,” so future generations can appreciate the history of Polish and Polish-American war veterans.

Having been liberated by the Army in April 1945 from the Nazi slave labor camp, Cyngier entered the United States in 1949 and served in the Army before becoming a stationary engineer at St. Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland.

St. Columba Cathedral has offered to have the monument placed outside the cathedral, and Polish Youngstown officials have discussed a downtown location with Youngstown officials and a Poland, Ohio, location, with officials there, Cika said.

Polish Youngstown hopes to rededicate the monument in its new location in October in conjunction with Polish-American Heritage Month, she added.


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