July 31, 2013

THE POLISH DIASPORA: PART 2 FAMOUS POLISH AMERICANS



Dzień Niepodległości (część 6) - Hymny: polski i ameryk (00:02:26m)

Polish Americans singing Polish and American national anthems.



The making of an American begins at the point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land.  James Baldwin


There is something profoundly unnatural in the concept of erasing every vestige of one's past. In doing so we destroy our very essence and identity in order to become cloned specimens of a New Culture, devoid of a soul.  Despite what some would have you believe, America is not a melting-pot.  The term has long outlived its relevance, if it has ever had any significance.  One has merely to look around to notice that communities everywhere are composed of many ethnic groups. They are all American, but still embrace their own cultures and traditions.  

The existence of this dichotomy should not be construed as any kind of betrayal to the United States, but an affirmation that all Americans have much to gain from the cultural diversity within its borders.. It's as if the world were brought to America's doorstep.  Lest we forget, America was built on the blood, sweat and tears of its immigrants:  Italians, Chinese, Greek, Mexicans, Philippinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, Vietnamese, Cubans, Koreans,  Germans, Japanese, Lebanese, Portuguese, Romanians, Russians, Egyptians, Ukrainians, Iranians and many other nationalities.  

Among the fold are great Polish-Americans.  Sadly many of them have severed ties with their homeland in both name and spirit. It is saddening to realize how little they know about their own history and culture.  I believe that Polish Americans must attempt to reconnect with their roots; to discover and understand the close bond between the peoples, and governments of Poland and the United States, and to realize what great contributions Polish people have made.

Great heroes of  American history, such as Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko are well known among the Polish, but remain obscure or completely unknown to the general American public. Perhaps it is because for so many youth today, history is regarded with disdain, as something to be left buried in the past. 

Therefore I will dedicate this post to some of the great Polish Americans of our time. This is Part 2 of the Special Series on The Polish Diaspora, showcasing some of the most famous Polish Americans, some known, others still obscure.  Most importantly is the realization that Polish Americans are the life-blood of the country.  Their excellence and devotion to their respective chosen fields have elevated American Honour and prestige at home and around the world.  God Bless Poland and God Bless America.


ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI



Zbigniew Brzezinski is a native Son of Warsaw, Poland, whose family roots stem from the szlachta, (the Polish nobility)  of Traby coat of arms.  His father, Tadeusz Brzezinski was a diplomat posted to Germany, and to the Soviet Union during the pre-war years. Zbigniew, then only a young boy was already exposed to and aware of the realities and dangers of the rise of Nazism, and Stalins Great Purges. However, in 1938 Tadeusz was reassigned to a posting in Canada where he settled with his family becoming, in essence political refugees. There is no doubt that the events of World War II left an indelible mark on Zbigniew.  It was his calling to eventually become one of the greatest American statesmen in history.  Mr. Brzezinski clearly acknowledged, during an interview, that the cataclysmic events in Poland during WWII deeply affected his perception of global politics and made him 'much more sensitive to the fact that a great deal of world politics is a fundamental struggle."

Zbigniew received his early education in Montreal, Canada and went on to study at the prestigious McGill University earning his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in 1949 and 1950.  Not surprisingly his thesis focused on the scope of multinational creeds prevalent in the Soviet Union, a discipline that was to become an intrinsic part of his political strategy.  

It is noteworthy to mention that his studies at Harvard marked a distinct turning point in his career. Zbigniew realized that there were opportunities in the United States not to be had in Canada.  Central to his vision was the eventual dismantling of Soviet domination in Poland as well as throughout Eastern Europe.  In 1957 Zbigniew visited Poland for the first time since he left as a boy.  What he saw confirmed his thesis - that is, internal rifts existing within the Eastern bloc would inevitably precipitate its decline (ie. Polish Protests, and Hungarian Revolution).

During his career, Mr. Brzezinski dealt with major US foreign policy issues which included SALT and SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties), brokering the Camp David accords, as well as establishing normalization with the People's Republic of China.  Despite the importance of many other issues, none was as urgent as the need to undermine the power of the Soviet Union.

Acting as advisor to John F. Kennedy campaign during the 1960 US Presidential Elections, Brzezinski aptly predicted the future collapse of the Soviet Union, based on his premise of internal national rifts.  However for the time being he chose to maintain a non-antagonistic policy towards the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe  In 1964, he supported the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential campaign and his civil rights policies.  Brzezinski served as a member of Johnson's Policy Planning Council of the US Department of State from 1966 to 1968. Incidentally, he was influential contributor to the famous "Bridge Building: speech.

In early 1976 the world witnessed the birth of power of the new-found Solidarity movement, and the wave of labor protests and riots that ensued in Poland,  Brzezinski was instrumental in emphasizing human issues in the "Basket II" of the Helsinki Final Act. This in turn, inspired the creation of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia.

He was appointed the US National Security Advisor under the Carter Administration from 1977 to 1981. Brzezinski was openly critical of the policy of detente established by Nixon and Kissinger, a situation which benefited the Soviet Union.

Despite the changes in office, Brzezinski's focus on Polish affairs never wavered.  He criticized the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981 and condemned Western European leaders for their failure to back Polish dissidents.  In 1987 he briefed then US Vice-President George W. Bush before his trip to Poland and was instrumental in reviving the Solidarnosc.

Brzezinski served as a member of the Chemical Warfare Commission (1985), US. National Security Council-Defense Department Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy (1987-1988), and on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, (1987-1989); Co-Chairman of the Bush National Security Advisory Task Force (1988)

Also in 1988, Brzezinski published, "The Grand Failure" which aptly predicted that Gorbachevs reforms would fail leading ultimately to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  By the following year, the Soviet Communists were unable to mobilize support in Poland and Solidarnosc swept into power following the general elections.  In late 1989 Brzezinski toured Russia and visited a memorial to the Katyn Massacre.  He asked the Soviet government to admit to the truth about Katyn.  The following week the Berlin Wall was toppled and so did the Soviet satellites, one by one.











STEPHEN GARY WOZNIAK

Stephen Wozniak - famous Polish American - inventor - computer genius - founder of Apple

If you have ever heard of "Woz" or "The Woz" then you know who I am referring to! It's the nicknames of Polish American inventor and computer genius, Stephen Gary Wozniak. Contrary to popular belief, it's not Steve Jobs who was synonymous with Apple, but rather Stephen Wozniak!!


The Woz single-handedly created and developed Apple I, that made him, and the trademark famous around the world.Wozniak designed the hardware, circuit board designs and operating system of the computer. On April 1, 1976 Apple Computer came into existence, with Wozniak as vice-president in charge of Research and Development (R&D)

Not resting on his laurels, the Woz, again single-handedly, designed Apple II. It was the first personal computer that demonstrated the capacity for color graphics, as well as contain built-in BASIC programming.


       "Woz, I believe, qualifies as the greatest all-around hacker.  He could design the hardware - he could design the software, right from the start from pencil and paper level and make it go."    (from The Secret History of Hacking.  You Tube video - link below)


Just as things were taking off, tragedy struck. On February 7th, 1981, Wozniak survived a terrifying plane crash.Soon after takeoff from Sky Park Airport in Scotts Valley, California, Wozniak's Beechcraft Bonanza A36TC stalled while in ascent and crashed, but not before bouncing down the runway, smashing through two fences and finally ending up in an embankment. Wozniak's passengers, Candice Clark (now his wife),her brother and his girlfriend were injured. Wozniak sustained severe injuries to his head and face and for several months struggled with anterograde amnesia. He could not recall the events of the crash, the duration of his recovery in hospital, nor his activities shortly after release from hospital. Wozniak did recover, and by May 1982 he was finally back in form.

Wozniak triumphant return was marked by his participation as a sponsor for two festivals in the U.S. celebrating computer technologies. The events were an astounding success as they ballooned into a huge festival combining technological developments, music, computers, media and people. A year later Wozniak was back working at Apple, focusing mainly on engineering endeavours as well as grooming an elite workforce.

By February 1987 however, Wozniak resigned from his position at Apple after twelve years of having made brilliant contributions to the company, as well as the field of computer technology. To have continued working at Apple was "the bane of his existence."

However, his new endeavour was every bit as progressive as his inventions: he chose to teach computer classes to students from ranging from mid-school to high school, as well as to teachers. He envisaged that computers would become an integral part of people's lives. Wozniak was indeed a man beyond his time. Nothing could have generated the computer revolution, were it not for Wozniak's dedication to enlighten and educate the young generations. During this period of time, Wozniak also created and developed the first programmable universal remote control, which went to market in 1987. In 2001 he founded his company Wheels of Zeus (WoZ!) from which emerged the latest technological wizardry - GPS technology! Oh, how people forget!

Upon leaving Apple, Wozniak generously donated all the money, and on-site tech support for the technology program in his local school district in the Bay Area.Wozzie Awards (the Stephen G. Wozniak Achievement Awards) were given to students recognized for their innovative use of computers for use in the business, art and music fields.


HONORS AND AWARDS
 


Grace Murray Hopper Award (1979)

National Medal of Technology (1985) presented to Stephen Wozniak and Steve Jobs, by US President Ronald Reagan.

Fellow of the Computer History Museum (1997)

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose (the street in front of the museum was renamed Woz in his honor.

National Inventors Hall of Fame (Sept 2000)

7th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment (2001)

Isaac Asimov Science Award (2011) presented by the American Humanist Association

Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology Global Award of the President of Armenia for Outstanding Contribution to Humanity Through IT (2011)



HONORARY DOCTOR OF ENGINEERING DEGREES


University of Colorado at Boulder - 1989
North Carolina State University - 2004
Kettering University - 2005
Nova Southeastern University - 2005
ESPOL University in Ecuador - 2008
Michigan State University - 2011
Concordia University in Montreal Canada - June 22, 2011
State Engineering University of Armenia - November 11, 2011<
Santa Clara University - June 16, 2012<



PATENTS (Stephen Wozniak is listed as sole inventor)


US Patent No. 4,136,359 — "Microcomputer for use with video display"(for which he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

US Patent No. 4,210,959 — "Controller for magnetic disc, recorder, or the like"

US Patent No. 4,217,604 — "Apparatus for digitally controlling PAL color display

US Patent No. 4,278,972 — "Digitally-controlled color signal generation means for use with display"


FILMS ABOUT THE WOZ

Jobs (2013) Film about the life of Steve Jobs. The actor Josh Gad portrays the role of Wozniak. (link to You Tube trailer)

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) Film chronicles the rise of Apple and Microsoft to 1997. The actor Joey Slotnick portrays the role of Wozniak.

The Secret History of Hacking (2001) A documentary film narrated by Wozniak
(You Tube Video - duration 50 minutes)

Triumph of the Nerds (1996) A PBS documentary series examining the rise in popularity of the personal computer.


BOOK

iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. (2006) Wozniak's autobiography. Co-authored by Gina Smith.



THE ORIGINAL VISIONARY IS STEPHEN WOZNIAK







SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI

Senator Barbara Mukulski
Barbara Ann Mikulski is the great-granddaughter of Polish immigrants, and was born and raised in East Baltimore.  When she was a teenager she delivered groceries from her parent's grocery store to seniors in the neighborhood. You wouldn't have to look twice to know that Mikulski is a trailblazer, rising from the ranks of community organizer and social worker, to member of US House of Representatives (1976), to member of the Democratic Party (since 1987), to that of first woman elected to U.S. Senate from Maryland. (1986). Mikulski has the longest track record in the history of the U.S. Congress.  In fact, she succeeded on her own right, that is, she did not fill the Senate seat by appointment, nor after a deceased spouse.

Mikulski achieved many milestones throughout her political career. Her record speaks for itself. In November 1976 Mikulski won the Democratic primary, and was re-elected four subsequent times, with nary a shred of opposition. However, during the 1986 elections of the U.S. Senate, Mikulski was publicly challenged by the Republican nominee Linda Chavez, who also wanted to win the seat. Despite Chavez' efforts to publicly undermine and berate her opponent, Mikulski did not respond to the verbal attacks. When the votes were counted, Mikulski won the election with 61% of the votes.


When Senator Hillary Clinton made a bid for the presidency in 2007, Mikulski offered her endorsement and praised Hillary as an exceptional leader. She called attention of the need to break "the glass ceiling" and encouraged Americans to elect the first woman for president of the U.S.

Senator Barb was one of eleven senators who voted against resolutions which proposed the use of force in Iraq (1991, and 2002). She has opposed predatory lending, and opposed the actions of Fairbanks Capital in their foreclosure of over 100 homes in Maryland. She voted in favor of HR1424, the U.S. Senate Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which provided $700 billion bailout package to the US financial market.

Mikulski serves on various Senate Committees: the Committee on Appropriations, of which she is Chairperson; Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Subcommittee on Children and Families; Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging; and Select Committee on Intelligence.



Mikulski, Senate Women Interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC World News (00:05:12 min)






JAMES ANTHONY "JIM" PAWELCZYK

Famous Polish American James A. Jim Pawelczyk - NASA payload specialist

James Pawelcyzk is the first Polish-American astronaut to go into space. From April 17 to May 3, 1998 he flew aboard NASA STS-90, Space Shuttle Columbia, and served as one of the payload specialists in the Space Neurolab. Their mission was to study the effects of microgravity on the human brain and nervous system. In the space of a 16 days (no pun intended) the Columbia orbited Earth 256 times, spanning a distance of 6.3 million miles and logging more than 381 hours.

In 2003, Pawelcyzk testified before a US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation advocating for increased research on the International Space Station. Pawelcyzk is a standing member of NASA's Life Sciences Advisory Subcommittee, and has served as a member of the Research Maximization and Prioritization Taskforce in 2002

Famous Polish American James A. Jim Pawelczyk - NASA payload specialist

Payload specialist James A. (Jim) Pawelczyk closely monitors fellow crew member David Williams, mission specialist. The device you see is the Neurolab's Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) used during a training session at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). Their objective was to discover how the human circulatory system changes during space flight. Photo credit: NASA.

James Pawelczyk was born in Buffalo, New York, and earned two B.A. degrees from the University of Rochester, in biology and psychology (1982). He earned a Master of Science degree in physiology from Penn State (1985) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biology from University of North Texas (1989). In 1992 he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His academic and professional careers has focused extensively on physiology and kinesiology; cardiovascular physiology and neurophysiology; bioengineering, autonomic and exercise physiology just to name a few.


HONOURS AND AWARDS

Research Scientist, United States Olympic Swimming Trials, 1984;

Pre-doctoral training award, National Institutes of Health, 1988-1989;

Research award, Texas Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, 1988;

Young Investigator Award, Life Sciences Project Division, NASA Office of Life and Microgravity Science Applications, 1994,

NASA Space Flight Medal (1998).





1998: Space Shuttle Flight 90 (STS-90) Columbia (NASA) (00:16:16 min)





GREGOR "GORE" VERBINSKI


GREGOR "GORE" VERBINSKI Famous Polish American


Who is the most successful film director in U.S. history? Who created a string of highly commercial box office hits such as The Ring, and Pirates of the Caribbean? Who made commercials for United Airlines, Budweiser, Canon, Skittles, Coca-Cola and Nike? Whose net worth is estimated to be $110 million? Give up? It is the incomparable, genious of Gregor "Gore" Verbinski - film director, screenwriter, producer, and musician.




Gore Verbinski was born on March 16, 1964 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to Victor and Laurette Verbinski. His father was of Polish descent. Gore graduated from the famous UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Though he started his career as a musician it was not long until he made the switch to television commercials. His first feature length film, a comedy, was called "Mouse Hunt' which became an international smash hit. It was followed by the hugely successful "The Mexican" starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.

Gore Verbinski directing cast of Pirates of Caribbean -- Johnny Debb in background


The Ring grossed over $200 million at the box offices, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl grossed even higher earnings, at over $600 million. But his crowning glory was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which grossed over $ 1 Billion worldwide. (This film is only the third ever to gross that much money!)

Gore Vebinski gives acceptance speech 2012 Oscars for film Rango
Gore Verbinski won 2012 Oscar for Rango - Best Feature Animated Film

A sneak peak of his future projects promises even greater successes. Verbinski is planning to film an adaption of William Monahan's rivetting novel, "Light House: A Trifle", a fictional account of an artist running from the mob, and hiding out in a lighthouse amongst a menagerie of strange and intriguing characters.

In addition, he will produce and direct a remake of the film, Clue (which was based on the popular board game.)  Moreover, he is also working on a futuristic videogame for Xbox 360..

And he is just getting warmed up....

  



The Lone Ranger Trailer #2 Johnny Depp 2013 Movie - Official [HD] (00:02:33 min)






TARA KRISTEN LIPINSKI





Tara Lipinski 1998 Olymics Figure Skating (00:04:25 min)

Tara Kristen Lipinski won the Ladies' singles Olympic Gold Medal in figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics. At the time she was only 15 years old and the youngest gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.  At Nagano, in the short program, Lipinski skated to the musical score of the animated film, "Anastasia", looking every bit the part of a princess. She placed second. But in the long program Lipinski thrilled fans and judges by accomplishing seven triples, as well as her legendary signature - her amazing triple loop/triple loop combination. She topped herself yet again in the finale by performing a triple toe/half triple salchow. She cinched it. And won Olympic Gold!

TARA LIPINSKI OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST

Tara was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Polish parents, Jack Richard Lipinski and Patricia (nee Brozyniak). She exhibited her innate talent at the very tender age of three when she began roller skating and later competed (and won) numerous championships. By the age of six, her focus was squarely on figure skating and well, the rest is legendary.

Lipinski first gained national attention when she won the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival competition. Even then she was the youngest female figure skater to have won the gold. In fact, she was the youngest gold medalist - EVER - in any disciple. The following year, however, at the World Junior Championships she placed fourth, and a year later finished in second place. In 1996 at the U.S. Postal Challenge, Lipinski again carved a name for herself by successfully completing a triple loop/triple loop jump combination, that became her signature style.

Her other victories include the World Champion, and the U.S. Champion in 1997, and twice champion in the Champions Series Final (1997-1998) Incidentally in 1997, she finished in second place at Skate America albeit while suffering from a bad cold. Even so, it was an impressive accomplishment.



Tara Lipinski on Oprah (00:10:45 min)



In an interview on the Today Show, Lipinski was interviewed by Katie Couric and confided her ambition to compete professionally against other Olympic champions - a decision that elicited widespread public criticism. In the words of one journalist from USA Today, entering professional skating was akin to "joining the circus". Despite the harsh words, Lipinski followed her dream and toured with Champions on Ice in the spring and summer of 1998. She continued touring for another four seasons with Stars on Ice. It was definitely a coup for the tour operators as Lipinski held great appeal to younger audiences and attracted massive audiences everywhere she performed.

Lipinski's successes skyrocketed her to international fame, but her skating career was eventually hampered by several injuries. During practice for Stars on Ice, Lipinski suffered a hip injury and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum. In 2002 Tara suffered another hip injury in the midst of a show and had a terrible fall during a jump. The next day the injury was exacerbated by torn muscles around the bruised area. The controversy continued as to the cause of her injuries - some people claiming it was the stressful repetition of practicing the amazing triple loop combinations.

Lipinski subsequently appeared in several television productions such as, Touched by An Angel, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Malcolm in the Middle, and many others. She also had a cameo role in the film, Vanilla Sky, was photographed for every major magazine, and appeared in every major talk show, including The Tonight Show.

AWARDS

1997       Female Athlete of the Year (by US Olympic Committee)
1999       Best Female Athlete (Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards)
1999       Best Female Athlete ( Fox Teen Choice Awards )
2000       Best Female Athlete (Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards)
2006       Lipinski was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the youngest to receive that honour.

Also awards from Teen People and Teen Magazines, and a flood of awards from other organizations.

And praise from adoring fans everywhere!




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