The Polish Americans

THE POLISH AMERICANS applauds the spirit, determination and solidarity of an immigrant success story like no other. Using vintage film footage, family photos, personal recollections and experiences, this documentary special embodies Polish pride in a televised “family album” of the Polish-American experience. Singer Bobby Vinton, actor Stefanie Powers, former U.S. National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), author Suzanne Strempek Shea and others share their stories in this tribute to Polish Americans. Actor Casey Siemaszko narrates.
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    In America, families gave the cultural identity of a divided homeland new life. THE POLISH AMERICANS takes viewers to the little Polska across the United States, from New York City and Schenectady to Cleveland and Chicago, where parents instill in their children the virtues and values of their native land and a love of its traditions, like the pierogi so many mothers filled and pinched just right.

    While strongly American and part of the larger culture, Polish Americans maintained a desire to keep their heritage alive — with rewarding results. As a Harvard student, Brzezinski, decided to make a name for himself “in spite of” his difficult Polish name. Vinton tells how he revived his recording career with “Melody of Love,” a song whose lyrics came from a Polish term of endearment his mother used. Powers describes her greatest thrill as the “privilege” of leading New York City’s Pulaski Day Parade as 1995’s Grand Marshall. And Mikulski embodied the “norms” of excellence she was raised to achieve when she became the first woman elected to a U.S. Senate seat in her own right. THE POLISH AMERICANS celebrates these proud achievements and the ultimate expression of cultural and religious pride — election of a Polish Pope.

    THE POLISH AMERICANS is co-produced by WLIW21 New York, producer of other PBS heritage specials that promote understanding of the ethnic diversity of America, including THE ITALIAN AMERICANS, MAY THE ROAD RISE TO MEET YOU (on Irish Americans), and A LAUGH, A TEAR, A MITZVAH (on Jewish Americans).

    THE POLISH AMERICANS is part of the PBS commitment to showcase the cultural history of the United States.

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