WWI Polish veterans remembered on Memorial Day

Dennis Radomski, veteran; Fr. Jacek Mazur, pastor, Divine Mercy and St. Mary's of the Cataract; Michael Parsnick, representing the Niagara County Polish Historical and Cultural Society, stand before the monument at the church honoring Polish American veterans of World War I. The monument was donated by the Niagara County Polish Historical and Cultural Society. (Contributed photo)

The local Polish veterans from World War I are long gone. But their service has not been forgotten.

On Memorial Day, a trio revisited a plaque that was laid in 2017 to honor the Polish soldiers by the Niagara County Polish Historical Society. Back then, the plaque was blessed  Fr. Jacek Mazur, pastor of Divine Mercy and St. Mary's of the Cataract. 

The plaque was dedicated to General Jozef Haller's Blue Army which served a century ago in WW1, and to the local Polish veterans who served with him. 

"It is a memorial to the 81 local polish patriots who served in his army," said Michael Parsnick, a representative of the society, who was told about Haller's Army by Judge Carl Bucki, then chief bankruptcy court judge, in 2016.

Parsnick said the vets were initially trained at Niagara-on-the-Lake, and upon the United States entry into the war in 1917, trained at Fort Niagara.

A total of 24,000 American Polish patriots of Haller's Army joined the Allies with the goal of freeing Poland. At the war's end, many joined forces with citizens of Poland to establish a government and a defense force before eventually returning to the US.

When the plaque was dedicated in 2017, music scores including the American, Canadian, and Polish national anthems, led by the Niagara Riverkeepers Boys Choir. The unveiling was done by two local military veterans: Dennis Radomski and Al Pecogna. Those who assisted the society's efforts to research and create the monument included Niagara Falls historians Pete Aimes, Terry Lasher and Al Kania. 

On Memorial Day, Radomski joined Parsnick and Fr. Mazur at the plaque to again commemorate the service of the Polish soldiers.

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