AAFKWP President and Founder Honored in Krakow by the Kosciuszko Mound Committee on June 18, 2019
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An Uncommon Honor (2019)


The day had been one that Dean Anthony J. Bajdek will never forget.

Whereas the base and column, the design of John H. B. Latrobe (1803-1891), of the Kosciuszko Monument at West Point, which had been dedicated by the Corps of Cadets of the United States Military Academy of West Point, New York, on July 4, 1828, thereby making it the world's second oldest national monument dedicated to honor the memory of Kosciuszko, Poland's national monument to honor Kosciuszko's memory -- the Kosciuszko Mound (Kopiec Kosciuszki in Polish) -- is the oldest, having been completed in 1823. At some 110 feet in height itself, its summit on Sikornik Hill reaches some 1100 feet above the city of Krakow. The Kosciuszko Mound is in effect what Poles term to be a hill upon a hill (gora na gorze). Pictured here courtesy of the Kosciuszko Mound Committee, is an aerial view of the installation where partially masked by the trees on the far right of the circumferential wall is the small Chapel of Blessed Bronislawa at the foot of the Mound. The Chapel had been the site on June 18, 2019 of the Committee's formal induction ceremony of Anthony J. Bajdek, a retired Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer in History of Northeasern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and President / Founder of the American Association of the Friends of Kosciuszko ar West Point (AAFKWP). The Kosciuszko Mound Committee had been established in 1820 to provide perpetual care of the Mound, a mission that it faithfully discharges to this day under the guidance of its 11th Lifetime President, that being Professor Mieczyslaw Rokosz, Ph.D., Professor Emerirus in History of Jagiellonian University in Krakow. The Kosciuszko Mound Committee's induction of Dean Bajdek as an Honorary Member was in itself an historical event in its organizational history insofar as Bajdek, being American born, is the first foreigner of any nation apart from Poland, ever to be inducted into Honorary Membership for reason to be iluminated as this section of the AAFKWP website progresses.      


Upon entering the Chapel with his wife, Cynthia, Dean Bajdek had been introduced by his gracious host, Professor Mieczyslaw Rokosz, Ph.D., the Committee's 11th Lifetime President, to another American, U. S. Air Force Colonel Carlos Alvarado, the liaison officer who represented the U. S. Consulate in Krakow, and who was fluent in Polish. Pictured in the next photo on the wall behind Bajdek, carved into a plaque of Greek marble prominently displayed, are the names and service dates of the Kosciuszko Mound Committee's 11 Lifetime Presidents since 1820. At that moment the members of the Committee and other guests began filing into the small Chapel as Cynthia Bajdek watched.

Colonel Alvarado, a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a native of Texas, explained that one of his grandfathers on his mother's side of the family had been a man of Polish descent. The Colonel had been the only other American to witness the induction ceremony along with Dean Bajdek's wife. As fate would have it, Colonel Alvarado's familiarity with the Polish language and training in it, as provided by the United States Air Force, brought him to Krakow on assignment as liaison officer for the United States Consulate.

As referenced above, there have been, to date, 11 Lifetime Presidents of the Kosciuszko Mound Committee since its inception in 1820:

  • 1820-1856  Franciszwk Kwasery Paszkowski
  • 1856-1878  Piotr Moszynski
  • 1878-1883  Franciszek Wladyslaw Paszkowski
  • 1884-1917  Stanislaw Tarnowski
  • 1917-1926  Franciszek Paszkowski
  • 1926-1936  Stefan Skrzynski
  • 1936-1851  Karol Rolle
  • 1951-1984  Karol Estreicher
  • 1984-1992  Wojciech Maria Bartel
  • 1992-1994  Ignacy Trybowski
  • 1994-         Mieczyslaw Rokosz

In contrast, thre are only six Honorary Members of the Committee, all solely of 21st rather than 19th or 20th century vintage, listed separately on a plaque of Greek marble on the wall on the right side of the altar in the Blessed Bronislawa Chapel: 

  •  2010  Franciszek Cardinal Macharski 
  •  2012  Franciszek Ziejka
  •  2017  Rev. Jerzy Bryla, Jerzy Wyrozumski and Jacek Purchla
  •  2019  Anthony J. Bajdek  USA 

NOTE: When Karol Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, his friend, Franciszek Cardinal Macharski, became his successor in Krakow. Insofar as Dean Bajdek is the first foreigner to become an Honorary Member, his American citizenry is identified uniquely as USA.

Waiting for the induction ceremony to begin is pictured below.

As the members of the Committee began filing into the Chapel, Dean Bajdek confided to his wife, Cynthia, that it was difficult for him to believe that all of it was actually happening. Although he had been informed by Professor Rokosz a year or so earlier that he would be inducted as an Honorary Member of the Committee, he never suspected that it would involve a formal ceremony that was about to begin in the early evening of June 18, 2019. 

In short, he never dreamed that such an event would ever occur, especially at the site of the world's oldest national monument that had been completed in 1823 to honor the memory of Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817) in Krakow, Poland.

But indeed, the induction ceremony did occur, adding a new fragment of the history of the venerable Kosciuszko Mound Committee.

The ceremony was to be conducted in Polish by Professor Rokosz, during which he introduced Dean Bajdek to the members of the Committee and other guests, and all of which was translated simultaneously into English by a fellow member of the Committee fluent in English. The photo on the right had been taken within a few minutes before the ceremony began.
The ceremony began as scheduled.

Everyone who had been expected to participate in witnessing the induction had arrived and were seated comfortably.

Professor Rokosz began the proceedings by explaining why Dean Bajdek had been selected by the Committee for Honorary Membership, the first foreigner of any nation ourside of Poland to have been deemed worthy of the honor.

After relating aspects of Dean Bajdek's curriculum vitae, Professor Rokosz identified the precise reasons for Bajdek's induction that had been included for the benefit of the public on the website of the Kosciuszko Mound Committee in advance of the induction ceremony. Essentially, he stated that three salient points convinced the Committee to select Dean Bajdek for Honorary Membership upon Dr. Rokosz's recommendation, namely, (1) that Bajdek is one of the most active of activists, the most energetic to commemorate Kosciuszko in the world, (2) largely by way of the Annual Kosciuszko Conferences of the American Association of the Friends of Kosciuszko at West Point that he founded in 2003, and of which he is the President, and (3) for his having donated on behalf of his Association in 2008, the commemorative plaque which established a transatlantic bridge of kindred spirit and purpose that forever connects the Kosciuszko Mound Committee and the American Association of the Friends of Kosciuszko at West Point, working together to perpetuate a common purpose. Please refer to the earlier section of this website titled, "Retrospect (2008)" for a comprehensive description of the circumstances associated with the commemorative plaque of 2008. 

 

A day to remember for all concerned, especially so for Anthony and Cynthia Bajdek.

It is necessary to note for Americans that the two crossed Polish scythes on the wall above the marble plaque with the names of the Committee's Lifetime Presidents, were placed there to remind visitors that in 1794 at the battle of Raclawice, Kosciuszko largely defeated Russian forces because of the Polish peasant scythe bearers, their only weapons being scythes, which were farm implements, to break into the line of Russian artillery and turn the tide of the battle in favor of the Poles.

(The successive photos of the induction ceremony speak for themselvs, as the expression goes.)

This photo provides a view of the entire Chapel during the ceremony.

There could never be a more suitable, and spiritually humbling, location for the Committee's induction ceremony.

Finally, the day's honoree expressed his gratitude to Professor Rokosz and the Committee not only for bestowing Honorary Membership on him but also, most importantly, to work for the same objective, that being, to honor the memory of Kosciuszko's life of unselfish altruistic service in the cause of freedom, independence, democracy and equality that had characterized his life which serves as a model to be emulated in today's troubled world.
The record of that day's induction is carved into the second of the two panels of Greek marble which, as opposed to the other panel that is reserved for the Committee's Lifetime Presidents, is reserved solely for the six Honorary Members with space enough to add more names in the decades and centuries to come.
The memory of that day's induction ceremony is permanently recorded on the panel of Greek marble reserved for the Honorary members of the Committee.

A close-up view that will never be forgotten by the day's honoree, a foreigner from the State of New Hampshire. 

Following completion of the induction ceremony, the Committee and its guests adjourned to the Kosciuszko Mound's private dining hall for an informal dinner.
During the dinner, Dean Bajdek presented Professor Rokosz, for inclusion in the Kosciuszko Mound Museum, with a specially-framed, authentic badge of the Association of Brotherly Help in the Name of Tadeusz Kosciuszko that had been established in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1905 but that went out of existence in the 1970s, some 40 years before he and his wife moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire in 2011.

These are a few of the photographs taken by Professor Rokosz's wife, Anna, to whom the American Association of the Friends of Kosciuszko at West Point expresses its sincere gratutude, alomg with that of Anthony and Cynthia Bajdek.

In closing, nothing else need be said of this final image.

Thank you for perusing this section of our Association's website.