Polish-American WWI vet honored with Maspeth street renaming
by Patrick Kearns
Nov 17, 2015 | 11008 views | 0 0 comments | 179 179 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In honor of Veterans Day, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley was joined by Maspeth and Polish community leaders to unveil Frank Kowalinski Way, a co-named portion of Maspeth Avenue outside the Polish Legion of American Veterans Post, also known as the Frank Kowalinski Post.

Kowalinski was the first Polish-American to give the ultimate sacrifice for his country in World War I.

“Today, this Veterans Day, we recognize Frank Kowalinski,” said Crowley. “A man, a solider and a veteran who's made a great impact on the community that we are standing in.”

Kowalinski was born and raised on Clinton Avenue in Maspeth. He worked in Greenpoint before joining other soldiers to fight for the United States during World War I. In 1918 in France, he was wounded, and despite writing to his family back home that he believed he may recover, he succumbed to his injuries and died a few days later.

“It is truly a privilege to recognize and memorialize the dedication of Frank Kowalinski and the millions of Polish-American veterans who gave their life in the name of our freedom,” Crowley said. “We in Maspeth are fortunate that our community has a history of such strong public servants, including soldiers and veterans. It is only right to post Frank's name for all to see in the neighborhood on this block because he has made such an important impact.”

Crowley was responsible for introducing the legislation that resulted in the co-naming of the intersection, but members of the post had advocated for the renaming for years.

The Frank Kowalinski Post in Maspeth is part of a network of veterans groups that represent the estimated 3 million Polish-Americans that have served this country. Mateusz Stasiek, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York, said that America and Poland have always worked together,

“We've been always on the same side because we share the same values,” Stasiek said. “We love freedom and we feel obliged to fight for freedom, wherever and whenever it's in danger.”

Stasiek said that Kowalinski likely could have avoided military service, but he didn't. He felt obliged to fight for freedom and laid down his life for the cause.

Kenneth Rudzewick, president of Maspeth Federal and a veteran, is one of Kowalinski's nephews, and said he admired his uncle growing up because he had a post named after him.

“Years later, I learned how influential the Kowalinski Post has been since it's inception after World War I,” he said.

He was also proud to note – as the yearly organizer of the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade – the number of parade grand marshals that have been associated with the post over the last 32 years, including William Aronowicz and James DeLesio last year.

And as a special announcement, Rudzewick also revealed that United Veterans of Maspeth and Fraternal Organization decided to name Fred Gundel, Kowalinski Post commander, as one of the grand marshals of next year's parade, which will have the theme “Maspeth: Lest we forget the 100th anniversary of World War I.”

“We will certainly incorporate Frank Kowalinski again on Memorial Day,” Rudzewick said.

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