|The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Father John Suchos, the person behind the Polish Mound project to commemorate Woodrow Wilson||Bronze bust of President Woodrow Wilson is all that remains of Father Suchos' great project.|
Imagine that you received a letter asking you to send a sample of soil, dirt you might call it, to some place you never heard of half-way around the world to honor a respected person. Inspired by the idea of Rev. Father John A. Suchos of St. Mary’s Polish Catholic Church in Blossburg, Pennsylvania, people from all over the world sent over 27,000 such soil samples, everything from a couple tablespoons worth to a shoe box full. More than 3,000 of these soil parcels came from Poland. Even Polish Australians sent soil from their continent, all to honor President Woodrow Wilson and to thank him for his role in putting Poland back on the map of Europe. “And thereby hangs a tale” that brings us to Blossburg in 1931 and to one of the most diverse heaps of soil and sand that ever existed on the planet.
The Historical Background
To understand the events at Blossburg in 1931, we have to back up a bit in the long and complex history of Poland to about 1757. Young Stanislaw Poniatowski, who was being groomed for his future role as King of Poland, was sent to St. Petersburg in Russia to learn the manners befitting his station in life. While there he had a romantic liaison with the German born Sophia Anhalt-Zerbat, wife of heir to the throne, Peter. When Elizabeth, Empress of Russia, died in 1762, Peter, her incompetent son, came to the throne. Sophia, in short order, displaced her husband and maneuvered herself into the position of ruler. We know her as Catherine the Great, and she ruled Russia for thirty-four years.
Next door in Poland in 1763, the Polish king also died. Polish nobility elected their kings. Rulers did not gain the throne through hereditary rights, and often the elected king was from outside the country. Stanislaw’s uncles, who had been long preparing him for the throne, took advantage of the earlier relationship with Catherine of Russia. They pointed out to her that if their nephew was not elected King, some German or Austrian was likely to ascend the throne and what would she think of that? In response, she sent her army to encourage the magnates to elect Stanislaw Poniatowski as king or die. She was ambitious, and she did not want anything going on in her next door neighbor’s territory that was not to her advantage. Stanislaw was elected King of Poland in 1764. He was to be the last of the Polish kings.
King Stanislaw turned out to be a liberal reformer. Bordered by Prussia to the west, Austria to the south and Russia to the east, Poland under Stanislaw was seen as a festering pocket of danger to its neighbors. That part of Europe still operated under feudalism with a very small number of families owning all the land as well as the people who lived and worked on it. Polish democracy only extended to the magnates, and he wanted to expand it, in small ways, to the serfs and trades-people. All three of his despotic neighboring rulers were moving in the opposite direction, expanding their powers and further locking the people under absolute control. If allowed to move in that direction, Poland could become a haven for discontented peasants who might be tempted away by the promise of a better life, and, of all things, a little bit of freedom.
Catherine’s solution was to join forces with Prussia and Austria to systematically erase Poland from the map. Poland’s small army was well suited to looking good on horseback and parading, so a marketing campaign was all that was needed to sell the Poles on the idea that it was in their interest to allow great pieces of its territory to be swallowed by its neighbors. Piece by piece from the first division in 1772 to the third and final one in 1795, the neighboring rulers chipped away at the borders until Poland disappeared, absorbed by Russia, Austria and Prussia.
For 123 years, until 1919, there was no Poland. How did the Polish people, dispersed among three separate governments, manage to maintain a national identity when there was no nation? The very briefest and most simplistic answer is a common language and culture, a shared religion and unfailing determination.
Poles Come to America
During this period there were insurrections, all of which ended badly for the insurgents. Every attempt to take back the homeland led to more persecution and more desperate emigration. The “January Uprising” of 1863 went on for over eighteen months. Many of those forced out in the 1863-64 period came to this country and to the coal mines of Pennsylvania. It is interesting to read the alien records at the Tioga County Court House. [ http://www.joycetice.com/aliens/aliens.htm ] A person might be listed as coming from Austria Poland or Prussia Poland, even at a time when Poland did not exist. While they renounced the King of Prussia or the Emperor of Germany as required in their oaths of allegiance, they never had to renounce Poland, which existed only in their minds.
Our Polish immigrants brought the essence of Poland with them to this country. Whole communities of Polish expatriates formed in the United States. The Polish community in Blossburg is the oldest. St. Mary’s Czechtochowa Church was formed in 1874 making it the oldest Polish church in the Scranton Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and the second oldest in the United States.
John A. Suchos was born June 10, 1871 in the Russian sector of the area that had been Poland. He was ordained as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1906. According to the passenger list of the ship Finland, he departed from Antwerp, Belgium and landed in New York City in May of 1911. He identified himself as Polish, and he was 39-years-old. In November of the same year, he was appointed pastor at St. Michael’s Church in Olyphant, Pa. While there he completed work on a church building, remodeled the rectory and started a school. After a series of transfers within the Scranton Diocese, he came to St. Mary’s in Blossburg in 1930.
On January 8, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson delivered a message to Congress outlining fourteen points that he believed essential to establishing world peace and restoring stability following the Great War, the war to end all wars, which we now call World War One. His thirteenth point is as follows. ” An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.”
This speech, this plan, meant deliverance to the Polish people no matter where in the world they lived at that time. Their gratitude and joy was immense. Poland would have more chapters in its long story after all.
The citizens of Warsaw, Poland built monuments to commemorate this event and President Woodrow Wilson. It was from these that Father Suchos, pastor of St. Mary’s in Blossburg from 1930 to 1938, developed his idea for a memorial to Woodrow Wilson. He hoped to express the gratitude of the Polish people of America and the world for the reunification of their homeland.
Father Suchos' Big Plan
Inspired, perhaps, by some of the same principals that motivated the Pharaohs of old Egypt to build increasingly larger and more impressive pyramids, Father Suchos wanted his monument to be taller than the ones in Warsaw, the tallest in the world. The original ambitious plan called for fourteen layers, representing each of Wilson’s fourteen points, piled one upon another in conical fashion – a ziggurat. Each level of the mound was to include a plaque with one of the fourteen points and an explanation of where the soil in that level originated. The base mound was to be filled entirely of soil from Poland. Intended to reach ninety feet, this grand edifice was to be topped by a twelve-foot bronze statue of the great Woodrow Wilson mounted on a pedestal and bringing the total height to one hundred ten feet. Father Suchos had the artistic talent to put his idea on canvas so that we can see it as he envisioned it.
|Father Suchos told the story of the mound in a booklet he put together
in 1945. He made six copies of it and left one in Blossburg at St. Mary’s
Church. He wanted to honor Woodrow Wilson as a “man of conscience and virtue”
who made good things happen. He told his idea to William B. Wilson, a Blossburg
native and first Secretary of Labor, who served in the Woodrow Wilson administration.
Mr. Wilson encouraged the idea and told him, “Don’t be afraid to start.”
Blossburg was the ideal location, according to Father Suchos. It was the first Polish-American community in the country. It was in a central area near but not too close to large cities. He was probably thinking of the devastation brought to European cities by war. It was in a scenic area with hills and forests, lakes and springs, and it would be visible from the highway, so tourists going through would see it. Father Suchos expressed a desire that this monument would last as long as the ancient pyramids of Egypt dating from 2500 B.C.
PHOTO: THe underlying Core of the mound at the first dedication in 1931.
|PHOTO _ THe Mound Core at 1931 dedication
The Blossburg community poured in their money, their time and labor, and their expectations for a grand and wondrous monument that would outlive them all. This project occurred during the Great Depression, when all resources were scarce. That makes the effort and sacrifice of the people all the greater. Father Suchos’ booklet lists many local people who helped and the number of truckloads of sand and dirt they brought for the project. They shared Father Suchos’ dream of a commemoration not only of President Wilson and Poland, but also saw it as a legacy of the community that built it.
Aloysius “Al” Warnecki is a retired U. S. Foreign Service officer living in Virginia. He grew up in Blossburg and graduated from the high school in 1938. He was an eyewitness to the building of the mound, and he remembers things that never were part of the written record. Al’s father, Vincent P. Warnecki, had several trucks that he used in his business for hauling construction materials over a large area. Father Suchos commandeered his services, along with the resources of many others, in building the mound. Al, then a teenager, was permitted to ride along and watch while the building progressed. According to him, Mr. Warneki and Father Suchos did not always agree on the way things should be done. They had some fairly serious altercations over what kind of sand should be used in the concrete and other issues, but the experience of Mr. Warneki in matters of building materials usually prevailed. With 188 truckloads, Mr. Warnecki topped the list of those who brought sand and dirt.
Al remembers that the whole mound was built on a concrete platform, and that there was a central core of stone and concrete around which the mound was formed. At the top was another platform the size of a small room on which the bronze bust of Woodrow Wilson was mounted. The actual mound differed from Father Suchos’ original design in that it became a spiral path winding from the ground up to the pinnacle where the Wilson bust was mounted on a two-tiered pedestal. No longer a twelve-foot statue as planned, the bust was a gift from the City of Warsaw in Poland. Four World War One cannons flanked the mound. They were a gift from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Polish people love symbolism, and what better symbolizes the essence
and spirit of a place than the soil at its base? Whether intentional or
not, the mound also commemorated another of Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points.
Point fourteen called for the establishment of a “general association of
nations” to protect the “political independence and territorial integrity”
of states of all sizes. This led to the League of Nations in 1919, succeeded
in 1945 by the United Nations. The most basic element of many nations was
united in the soil collected for the Polish Mound at Blossburg.
|At the inaugural ceremony on Labor Day 1931, Mary Banik Bederman, who still lives in Blossburg, was six years old. She remembers walking up to the mound and depositing a handful of dirt that had been sent by a family friend in Erie, Pennsylvania. [Since the article was published in Mountain Home Magazine in September 2008, Mary has died.].|
|Moving the collected soil up to the mound.|
|Children from Mansfield schools march in the parade||Woodrow Wilson bust atop the pedestal on the mound.|
A year later at the memorial’s dedication in September 1932, the principal speaker, Judge Joseph F. Sawicki of Cleveland, Ohio, had this to say. “Here upon this free soil of America, those of us who are of Polish ancestry wish to show our appreciation and pay our tribute and homage to Woodrow Wilson, greatest benefactor and staunchest friend. Generations may come and go but this great memorial to Woodrow Wilson will always be a national shrine that will draw to its bosom the children of America.” Sadly, his optimistic predictions would not be realized.
At the same commemoration in 1932, when the construction was a year underway, the monument was offered to the nation as a shrine to President Wilson. The Wellsboro paper reported, “More than 2500 people attended a celebration on the site of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Mound at Blossburg, Monday when a resolution was passed urging President Hoover to accept the Mound on behalf of the nation.”
The building process extended over several years. In 1936, on the fifth
anniversary of the inaugural ceremony, people mobilized to bring dirt by
whatever conveyance available, whether truck or wheelbarrow or shoebox.
They formed a continuous line to pass the dirt from the base to the higher
level in the same way that early fire companies might form a water line.
|All things have a beginning, and all things have an end. So it was
with the great Polish Mound, although its end followed all too closely
on its beginning. Father Suchos was reassigned to another parish in 1938.
The President Woodrow Wilson Mound Association intended to create a fund
for the perpetual maintenance of the mound, but that apparently did not
happen. It is also apparent that the nation did not accept the gift offered
in 1932 by Blossburg’s builders.
Photo - The Mound in 1936
After Father Suchos left, World War Two broke out, and many who might have taken care of the park and the memorial left to join the military. Attention shifted elsewhere. The energy and momentum that had been stimulated by collecting the soil and building the monument dissipated. The whole of Island Park reverted to a wild state with brush and small trees taking over.
Jim Bogacyk of Blossburg is the son of Tillie Bubacz Bogacyk who is shown in some of the dedication photos taken in 1931. Jim remembers how he enjoyed walking up the spiral paths of the Polish Mound when he was a child. He was one of the local youngsters of the wartime era who made their own paths into and through the abandoned park. The memorial with its spiral path was the perfect setting for King of the Hill. Reversing the dictum to make plowshares out of swords, the children made swords out of rushes. They obtained carbide from Ward Foundry, mixed it with water in a can and inserted that into one of the World War One cannons for a good loud bang. They fought their own little war, while the greater war raged around the world.
The mound was never a well-built, architecturally designed structure. It was a heap of soil, sand and rock with some rock and concrete retaining walls and core to support the spiral path – nothing more. As the children fought their way up and down the spiral paths the edges broke away and rocks tumbled down. Certainly they went home from these battles with the soil of Poland embedded in their knees and stuck between their toes. They tracked it through the streets and into the family kitchens. Before many summers of mock war had passed, all trace of the design was gone. All that remained was an amorphous heap with the bronze bust of Woodrow Wilson looking down sternly at those who had caused this destruction of his memorial. According to Jim, most of the kids in Blossburg, if they considered it at all, thought the bust was of local citizen, William B. Wilson, atop the mound. They knew nothing of the reason President Woodrow Wilson was commemorated or even who he was or what he did.
Al Warneki was overseas in World War Two. He remembers getting letters from home lamenting the condition of Island Park and the great mound that so many had labored and sacrificed to build. Without the leadership of Father Suchos and with attention on the war, nothing was done to maintain the memorial that started out with such high hopes and which had generated interest all over the world.
To make a bad situation worse, the great flood of 1946 further eroded the mound. It also took out the car-bridge into the park and caused damage over a wide area. The dreams of Father Suchos and his followers could not hold back the water or strengthen the stone retaining walls. By then the Ward Foundry workers had returned from war and wanted to play softball. They went in and cleaned up the park, cut down the brush and bulldozed flat what was left of that heap of the most international dirt ever collected together in one place. They built one of the finest softball fields in northcentral Pennsylvania. Jim Bogacyk recalls how the teams would walk to Arnot or Morris Run to play other teams, and those teams would walk to Blossburg to play.
Richard Nowak, now of Sullivan Township, grew up in Blossburg. He remembers the mound in Island Park. It was impressive and imposing, and it was the first thing one saw driving across the bridge to enter the park. People wanted to investigate what it was about and would climb the spiral path to read the plaque. He does not recall it ever being mentioned in his school classes in the 1950s and 60s. He moved away, and when he returned, it was gone. Most of the young people of Blossburg now, regardless of their ethnic heritage, don’t know much about it at all.
Father Suchos did not forget his memorial even after he left. In 1935
or 1936 he donated his collection of materials related to the Woodrow Wilson
Memorial to the Polish Roman Catholic Union Archive and Museum in Chicago.
Tony Lupkowski came to Blossburg, after his 1960 marriage to Blossburg
native, Betty Boinski. He has been to Poland many times, and he is fluent
in the Polish language. He is also the retired postmaster of Blossburg.
He brought the copy of Father Suchos’ 1945 booklet that had been left at
St. Mary’s to our attention and translated it as well. In it Father Suchos
answered the question of when the mound would be finished. He believed
that the mound would continue to grow forever as long as people added to
it and believed in its importance.
|The 1946 flood changed that, and we can only imagine the sorrow that
caused Father Suchos. It never became the gathering place for the Polish
population of the nation as he had envisioned. He died in Detroit in 1970
only months away from his 99th birthday. Sometime in the 1970s a letter
from Poland arrived in Blossburg for Father Suchos asking about the state
of the mound. Then letter carrier Tony Lupkowski, who had not yet become
involved in the history, gave it to the priest at that time who never answered
|The four World War One cannons that surrounded the mound are still in the community at the V.F.W., at the American Legion and in Island Park. The Woodrow Wilson bust and plaque remain in Island Park as a reminder of President Wilson’s role in saving Poland and of Father Suchos and the Polish-American people of Blossburg who expressed their gratitude. The soil of Poland, washed to the river by flooding, is integrated with North American soil at the bottom of Chesapeake Bay. On the Island Park baseball field remaining particles have intermingled with native soil just as our Polish immigrants and their descendants have integrated into the “melting pot” of our American population.|
|A shorter and revised version of this article was published in Mountain Home in September 2008. It has been awarded First Prize in the Feature Article Division of the Keystone Journalism Awards.|
To Erect Memorial at Blossburg.
Plans of the Polish residents of Blossburg for the erection of a monument honoring the memory of former President Woodrow Wilson, who assisted the people in Poland in gaining their freedom, are nearing completion. The monument will be erected at Island Park, Blossburg.
Soil from the various villages in Poland and from the largest Polish settlements in the United States, including New York, Cleveland, Chicago and other cities, will be used in the mound on which the monument will stand. The monument will be similar to the one recently erected in Poland, the dedication of which was attended by Mrs. Wilson.
Elaborate plans are being made for a celebration to he held at Island Park Labor Day. It is expected that the work will be under way by that date.
Huge Memorial Mound
To Be Erected in Blossburg in Commemoration of Woodrow Wilson's Work for Poland.
A huge memorial mound, planned to be the largest in the world, will be dedicated to the memory of the late President Woodrow Wilson at Blossburg on Sept.25, which is to be the Polish contribution to Wilson's memory for his active participation in assisting the Poles to re-establish their country after the year.
Headed by Rev. John A. Suchos, rector of the Polish Catholic church in Blossburg, a large group of Poles and other citizens have formed "The President Woodrow Wilson Mound Association," an organization of persons of Polish extraction from every section of the United States and Canada, including numerous Polish natives.
The people of Poland maintained a united, independent and stable government for more than one thousand years in which the welfare of her people was progressively fostered, Christianity encouraged, family life protected, agriculture, manufactories, literature and art developed, and that stood as a bulwark against the hordes of Tartars and Turks that sought to overthrow Western civilization by force of arms.
A conspiracy that was entered into by three absolute monarchs of adjacent countries resulted in the destruction of the Polish government by the dismemberment of the country, more than a century ago.
The people of Poland, having a profound love of country, suffered martyrdom on several occasions in an effort to regain the independence of their country and the determined stand taken by President Wilson at the close of the world war, in favor of a united and independent Poland with access to the sea, served as a great aid to the Poles in establishing their freedom.
The hearts of the people of Poland, and the people of Polish extraction in the United States, are filled with gratitude for the great help given to them by President Wilson speaking for the people of the United States and these residents have maintained a desire for many years to express their gratitude by some suitable memorial.
Because of the fact that Blossburg is the first Polish settlement in the Scranton Diocese of the Roman Catholic church and one of the first in the United States, it is believed no more fitting honor could be bestowed upon this Pennsylvania community than the establishment of the memorial amid the grand setting of the beautiful Pennsylvania hills.
Taking the initiative on behalf of the Polish people of America, the Poles have gone ahead with their plans for the erection of the memorial and have practically completed their organization. The Borough of Blossburg taking an active interest in the memorial, has given to the people a plot of 36,000 square feet, located in Island Park, for the erection of the mound. The Association will create a perpetual fund for its upkeep.
The Polish people have resolved to make the mount the largest of its kind in the world and from every indication it appears that their resolution will be carried out. The mount will be 160 feet in diameter and 90 feet high, with a monument and flag on the top to make the total height 110 feet.
Soils from every province in Poland and from every Polish community in the United States will be used. The mound will be of spiral form in 14 elevations representing President Wilson's 14 points, and each elevation will have a bronze tablet containing one of the points mentioned.
The object of uniting the soils of the two nations in the memorial mound is so that it may give symbolic expression to their unity in eternal and fraternal cooperation for the mutual protection of the "freedom, integrity and independence," which was the motto of Kusiuszko, beloved by all Poles.
Heading the list of celebrities who are expected to attend is the Polish Ambassador to the United State, the great Polish pianist, Paderowski, and Bishop O'Reilly, of the Scranton diocese. John N. Willys, United States Ambassador to Poland, is negotiating for the transportation of soil from the Polish provinces which will be used for the base of the mound.
A gala event is being planned for the day of the consecration. The services are to be conducted in the morning according to the present plans and athletic events in the afternoon.
Blossburg, through the erection of this memorial, is expected to become the Mecca for thousands of Poles from all parts of the country and new arrivals to the United States. With this thought in mind the Blossburg people are planning to make Sept. 25 a day to be remembered and to make the memorial one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Thousands At Blossburg
Wilson Memorial Mound Ceremonies Held Monday at Island Park.
Thousands from many parts of the country and the entire Polish and American populations of Blossburg were spectators Monday at one of the greatest celebrations the town ever held. A two-hour program paying tribute to President Woodrow Wilson was presented in Island Park, the site of the Wilson Memorial, which will not be fully completed for several years.
The American Legion Band and the Tioga Band furnished music for the occasion and led the parade which started at 11 o'clock from the post office and proceeded to the park, where the program was given. Fraternal and church organizations and others paraded.
Speakers were Dr. Will George Butler, of Mansfield State Teachers' college; Judge Joseph Sawicki, of Cleveland; Rev. A. Krajewski, of Pittsburgh, and Hon. William B. Wilson, Secretary of Labor in the cabinet of President Wilson.
W. S. Roberts, Burgess, opened the ceremonies. An outstanding note of the celebration was the fact that over 1,000 packages of soil from Poland, Italy and Polish communities throughout the United States were brought to the ceremonies by the visitors and were placed on the mound. Rev. J. A. Suchos, pastor of St. Mary's church, of Blossburg, was chairman of arrangements for the celebration.
Delivered at Blossburg, Pennsylvania, September 23, 1931,
On the Occasion of the Inaugural Dedication of the Memorial Mound
Being Erected by the Polish People of America
In Honor of The Great President,
Revered Father Suchos, Mr. Chief Burgess, Members of the Borough Council, Visitors, Friends and Neighbors:
Permit me, in the beginning, to extend my heartiest congratulations to Father Suchos for his conception of this elaborate plan to erect the largest mound in the world in honor of The Great President, Woodrow Wilson, to be composed of soil contributed from every province in Poland and from every Polish community in the United States, and to wish him and his associates unbounded success in the execution of their wonderful project.
I feel that we who are not of Polish extraction may well paraphrase the language of General Pershing and shout with a might voice, Kosciuszko and Pulaski, we are here!--here to join hands with these Polish patriots who have determined to erect this mound in grateful remembrance of the man who did so much to restore the liberty, integrity and independence of Poland.
There are few countries of modern times whose archives contain such records of achievement as those that make up the history of Poland. Toward the end of the tenth century it emerged from the darkness that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire, a full-fledged nation with all the agencies of government in active operation. We who are the descendants of the people of Western and Northwestern Europe are prone to look upon ourselves as the original proponents and propagators of democracy. Yet Poland, almost at the dawn of its history, was a limited monarchy, with a parliamentary form of government. The king was elected for life and when he passed away the parliament elected his successor. It was not an hereditary position. The country was invariably spoken of by historians as the Polish Republic.
Poland was one of the nations that helped to break the strength and destroy the morale of the Tartar invasion, and nearly broke itself in doing so. But the barbarian hordes were hurtled back into the East, from whence they came, and Western civilization was enabled to develop in its own way, untrammeled by the ignorance and cruelty of Eastern despotism. It was Poland that overwhelmed the invading armies of the Ottoman Empire, drove the Turks in confusion from the gates of Vienna, and saved the cause of Christianity from utter destruction at the hands of the Mohammedan crusaders. For eight hundred years it maintained a stable, progressive and independent government. It developed industry and commerce, and fostered literature, science and the arts. It demonstrated its right to a separate existence, and a place in the sun with the other nations of the world. And then, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Joseph the Second, Emperor of Austria, entered into conspiracy to subjugate the people and divide the territory of which the country was composed. The disrupting process commenced in 1772, but it was not until 1791 that the conspiracy finally succeeded in subduing the Polish people and dismembering the country.
The Poles did not sit supinely by and accept the destruction of their government as the final dispensation of Providence. On several occasions they took up arms in an effort to restore the independence of their country. The odds against them were too great. The last attempt was made in 1863-64. It failed. Tens of thousands of those who participated in it were scattered to the four winds of the earth. It was from that source that the United States received its great immigration of Polish settlers. They came from amongst the most intelligent, energetic and liberty-loving groups of the Polish nation. They have made splendid citizens and have contributed much to the wealth and welfare of America.
At the outbreak of the World War, President Wilson was convinced that the balance of power, which had been used as one of the excuses for portioning Poland amongst the adjacent powers, was incapable of preserving the peace of Europe, as its advocated declared, but was a cause of war rather than a preventative. Furthermore, he looked upon the conquest of one nation by another, and the subsequent oppression of the conquered people, as one of the principal causes of political unrest that continually threatened the peace of the world. For these reasons he insisted, and insisted successfully at Versailles, that the Polish people, and other peoples similarly situated, should have the right to determine for themselves whether they would continue under the rule of the conquering nation, or set up a government for themselves in their own way.
When the World War came the heart of President Wilson was filled with pain at the sight of the terrible catastrophe that had overtaken the countries of Europe. He suffered untold agony at the thought of the millions of men who gave themselves a willing sacrifice to their patriotic devotion. The abiding hope that entered into the depths of his soul and guided all his actions was that the United States, as the big brother of all the nations on earth, would be able to find a way to bring the contending forces together around the council table, to work out their problems by peaceful discussion rather than by the arbitrament of war. In that great hope he worked, and watched, and waited, eager for the development of any incident that would give the opportunity of promoting peace.
The sinking of the Lusitania, with its terrible toll of the lives on non-combatants, many of them American citizens, interrupted his plans, and set the whole country ablaze with indignation and horror. From every section of the country came demands that Germany be punished for the atrocious deed, and many recognized leaders were insisting that war be declared immediately. But the President said no. A declaration of war could not restore the lives that had been taken, and the only good that could come from a declaration of war would be to provide for security in the future. He would demand that security, and insist upon it, through the usual diplomatic channels. He did that. In a series of strong notes he told the German government that the rights of American shipping would be maintained; that the lives of American citizens on the high seas would be protected, and that American vessels must not be interfered with, except in accordance with the recognized rule of international law, where ample provision is made for the safety of the passengers and crew. The German high command finally yielded. Our rights on the high seas were conceded and our citizens were permitted to travel about their usual business with a reasonable degree of safety.
From the time of the sinking of the Lusitania until the end of January, 1917, the interference with our merchant vessels, by submarines, was almost negligible, and then we were notified that on the following day Germany would renew its ruthless submarine warfare, and included the additional insult that it would permit us to send one ship a week to England, provided it entered a certain harbor, by a certain route, on a given day in the week, and was painted in stripes like a barber pole. There was nothing left for the President to do but to give the German Ambassador his walking papers, which he promptly did. Even then he was not without hop that we would be able to keep out of the conflict. Surely his prompt action in dismissing the ambassador would impress the German high command with the fact that the United States meant business; that is would maintain its own sovereignty over its own territory, and protect the rights of its citizens at sea. In that he was grievously disappointed. During the following two months a number of our vessels were sunk, without warning, and the lives of their passengers and crews destroyed. In that connection it should be remembered that, under international law, a ship having United States registry, and flying our flag, is a floating detached portion of our country. Any attack upon it, by armed forces from abroad, constitutes an act of war, just as much as if a foreign army entered New York and blew up its skyscrapers.
With an aching heart the President realized that war was already upon us, and that he must go to the Congress and ask it to declare that fact to the world, and take such steps as were necessary to bring it to a speedy conclusion. There were still numbers of our people who asserted that the solution of the problem lay in an edict being issued by our government forbidding its citizens from entering the danger zone until the war was over, and they emphasized their position with the declaration that it was customary for the mayor of a city to order its citizens to keep off the streets when a riot took place. But that was only part of the story. The mayor who would order the residents off the streets would be laughed at, unless he was, at the same time, taking steps, to suppress the riot. The United States was not in that position in relation to the European conflict, and would not be, unless a declaration of war was made.
We might order our business men to keep out of the danger zone and tell them to take care of their foreign trade by correspondence. We might say to the people who were traveling for pleasure or curiosity, you must not endanger the peace of your country merely to gratify your own selfish pleasure, or idle curiosity. But, there was another element that had to be taken in consideration. The American seaman earned a livelihood for himself and family by going down to the sea in ships. He was following his usual vocation when he manned the ships on the ocean, whether they were of foreign or domestic registry. The President came to the conclusion that the American sailors, whose valor and prowess have added prestige and glory to the American flag in all the conflicts we have ever engaged in, was just as much entitled to the protection of the American government as the wealthiest millionaire in the land. Woodrow Wilson was a man who loved the paths of intellectual development. He had a passion for peace, but he had a greater passion for human freedom and justice.
It was now evident that war was inevitable, and, in the agony of his feelings, the President made up his mind that, so far is it lay in his power, he would make it a war to end war, by forcing the liberation of all subjugated nations, and including in the treaty of peace a system of adjustment through which all the nations on earth, big and little, might sit around the council table and work out their international problems by peaceful discussion, rather than by the force of arms. With all the intelligence and will power he possessed he concentrated his energies upon the mobilization of the fighting forces and the industries necessary to support them. They must be organized on the largest and best scale that our manpower would permit, and with the greatest speed that human skill and vigor could produce, in order that the war might be rapidly brought to a finish and thereby reduce the casualties to a minimum.
He had adopted a definite policy and taken the people into his confidence, and he felt keenly the responsibility that rested upon him. It was his duty to do all that he could to create the machinery by which international disputes could be fairly adjusted at the council table, and, by that means eliminate any excuse for future wars. he could not delegate that duty to anyone else. He must go to the peace conference in person and carry with him the prestige of his position as president of the greatest nation on earth. He went, and it is well that he did. Out of his presence at Versailles grew the independence of Poland and other small nations, and the adoption of the covenant of the League of Nations, both of which will stand as eternal monuments to his name.
When we look back over the political life of President Wilson, and observe the magnitude of the achievements for the promotion of the common welfare during his first administration; when we realize the vast number of lives he saved by refusing to be drawn into the European conflict while there was yet hope for a peaceable solution; when we grasp the full significance, from the standpoint of conserving human life and human resources, of the extent and rapidity with which he mobilized the fighting forces of the nation; when we see what the League of Nations has already accomplished in maintaining the peace of the world, and visualize the possibilities of the future, notwithstanding the fact that the United States has refused to adhere to it; when we have impressed upon us from day to day the great benefits that have come to mankind through the high ideals he promulgated in the conduct of the war, we are forced to exclaim, deep down in the innermost recesses of our souls, thank God for Woodrow Wilson! He was a practical idealist, with a strength of character that enabled him to carry on under the direst stress of adversity. As the historian of the future pores over the records of the present and carefully weighs the evidence uninfluenced by the political passions of the period, the name of the man who directed the destinies of our nation during the darkest crisis the world has ever know, will be inscribed in the annals of history as one of the greatest Presidents of the United States.
And now, on behalf of the Polish people of America, and the lovers of freedom and justice everywhere, I dedicate this proposed mound to the honor and memory of The Great President, Woodrow Wilson, with this pure sand from the mountains of Pennsylvania (here Mr. Wilson scattered the contents of a small bag of sand on the site of the mound), typical of the purity of his ideals, and the grit and determination with which he fought to secure their adoption, even unto the death.
Polish Leaders Convene at Blossburg as Wilson Mound is Dedicated Before Crowd
William B. Wilson, Former Secretary of Labor Makes Address. Flag Is Raised Above Site of Mound to Commemorate Wilson's Efforts for Polish People. Estimate 2,000 People Witnessed Event.
Dedication of a proposed mound to honor former President Woodrow Wilson's efforts in the freeing of Poland, following the World War yesterday brought Polish dignitaries from many points in Pennsylvania to Blossburg, second oldest Polish settlement in the United States, where at Island Park Mayor W. S. Roberts was chairman of dedication ceremonies which included an address of former Secretary of Labor, William B. Wilson.
It is estimated that more than 2000 were in attendance.
Activities began with a street parade at 10 o'clock yesterday morning, led by the Mansfield State Teachers College Band, and ????? the Blossburg schools, visiting Polish priests and other officials.
On the 36,000 square foot plot on Island Park, donated to the Great President Woodrow Wilson Memorial Mound Association by the Boro Council and Park Commision of Blossburg, Mayor Walter S. Roberts opened the event with an address in which he traced the development of the mound idea. Mayor Roberts attributed to Rev. John Suchos, priest of St. Mary's Catholic church at Blossburg, the inception of the plan, and pointed out that Blossburg , oldest Polish parish in the Scranton Diocese and second oldest in the United States, is well fitted for the location of the mound to honor Woodrow Wilson and Polish freedom.
Roberts sketched the organization of the corporation to build the mound stating that donators will receive stock certificates and an appointment as director, or in some cases, honorary offices. He congratulated Rev. Suchos and St. Mary's parish on attempting this work.
Financing the building of the first mound, which, due to landscaping size and other conditions will be the most expensive, Roberts said, will be in part accomplished by proceeds from entertainments held in a building which he has had arranged for such purposes. He stated that the United States Ambassador to Poland, John. N. Willys, is expected to be in full accord with the plans.
"It is my understanding," the Mayor said, "that this mound is to be 150 in diameter at its base and that the base mound is to be erected entirely of soil from Poland and Europe; that the next 13 mounds are to be raised by several American Polish Parishes, and that if a complete mound cannot be erected by any one American Polish parish, that mound may be divided into several parts made from several different parishes. On each ??? [Type blurred here] there will be placed a tablet showing just which part of the mound was erected by the parish donating to its erection."
Roberts devoted a major portion of his speech to glorifying the work of President Woodrow Wilson in freeing Poland, and in commenting on the love of soil which has led pious Poles of Cracow, Poland, to erect a mound ??? [blurred] which the Blossbrg mound is to be patterned. He visioned the mound as a Mecca for Polish tourists, and as a constant reminder of the fellowship of this nation and Poland.
Former Secretary of Labor, William B. Wilson, a native of Blossburg, and a member of the cabinet when Wilson performed his great work for the Poles, was the principal speaker. The well known Labor leader was well fitted to describe the history of Poland since the tenth century, and to tell of the centuries of suffering from which the present hardy race of Poles have sprung. He gave his whole-hearted support to the Blossburg project, and urged full co-operation of all Polish people in the work.
Rev. John Suchos, president of the Great President Woodrow Wilson Memorial Mound Association, then spoke briefly telling of the work of the Poles in this country. J. F. Majchrzak, local secretary of the Association spoke on details of the plan. Majchrzak has been an indefatigable worker in the cause. Father Gravezka, of Kingston, formerly of Blossburg also spoke.
Present at the dedication were four Polish priests from major parishes in this state, and a number of carloads of Poles from the anthracite regions.
To Blossburg yesterday came soil in cars, in packages and in bundles from Rome, Italy; Detroit, MIch.; Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Carbondale and other points in Pennsylvania, and Polish centers in New Jersey. From the site where the first coal was taken from Blossburg, earth was donated by Ben Jones, of Blossburg, and a packet of the soil underlying the earth of the old Blossburg glass plant was given by Joseph Clemons.
Raising of the American flag on a tall staff over the mound was the high point of the celebration. Two small Polish girls from Blossburg pulled the cords which raised Old Glory above the proposed mounds.
During the afternoon, a baseball game between Wellsboro and Blossburg was played, and in the evening a top liner boxing exhibition took place in the new arena which Mayor Roberts has given over to the financing of the mound.
Ceremonies Held in Blossburg Wednesday Were Largely Attended.
The mound in memory of President Woodrow Wilson for his part in the liberation of Poland was dedicated at Blossburg last Wednesday. If plans under the leadership of Rev. John Suchos materialize, the mound will be 150 feet in diameter and 110 feet high. Mr. Suchos is pastor of St. Mary's, the second oldest Polish church in America.
Hon. William B. Wilson, Secretary of Labor in President Wilson's cabinet, gave the dedicatory address, outlining the history of Poland and the part President Wilson played in securing Poland's freedom.
Burgess Walter B. Roberts and Rev. John Groyozska, of Pittston, also made addresses. Mr. Roberts said the Polish people hoped to complete the project within two years. Earth from Poland, Rome and various spots of historical interesting America was poured on the mound during the ceremonies.
"Woodrow Wilson," Mr. Wilson said, "clinging to the ideal of self determination for all small nations, and which he extended in a large sense to all nations, insisted on the integrity and independence of Poland and the republic was built."
In the center of a level space at the top of the mound, when completed, will be a twelve-foot statue of Woodrow Wilson, and the American and Polish flags will be flown. The mound will be of concrete on the outside, and on each elevation will be a bronze tablet on which will be inscribed one of President Wilson's "Fourteen Points."
Around the bottom will be the inscription, "In Memory of Woodrow Wilson," and underneath the words, "The Polish Nation." It is hoped to have the mound completed by April 7, 1932, which is President Wilson's birthday. A big celebration is planned for that day.
Polish Mound Given Praise.
President Hoover and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson Write Replies to Father Suchos, Head of Blossburg Mound Group.
Blossburg officials of the Great President Woodrow Wilson Memorial Mound association of Blossburg, have received replies from President Hoover and from Mrs. Woodrow Wilson to ????? messages were sent ?????? ????? ???? inclosed on the anniversary of President Wilson's 75th birthday. The Blossburg Herald quotes the letters as follows:
"The White House, Washington, D. C., Dec. 30, 1931.
"My dear Father Suchos:
"The President has received your letter of Dec. 29th, with enclosures and asked me to assure you of his appreciation of the friendly message which it conveys on behalf of your organization.
"Sincerely yours, Lawrence Richey, Secretary to the President."
"Washington, D.C., Dec. 31, 1931.
"My dear Father Suchos:
"Allow me to thank you and through you the members of your Association for the many kind expressions contained in letter of Dec. 28th which has just reached me.
"I want to also express my appreciation of your personal card of season's greetings and the copy of address of Hon. William B. Wilson which you so thoughtfully enclosed.
"I am gratified to learn that so many wreaths were placed at the foot of the Memorial Mound and it was very kind of you to tell me of this.
"With the hope that the New Year holds many good things for you and the members of your Association, believe me.
"Very cordially yours, Edith Balling Wilson, (Mrs. Woodrow Wilson)."
Polish Group Asks Hoover to Accept Wilson Memorial Mound
More Than 2500 Attend Ceremonies at Blossburg on Monday, When William B. Wilson, Judge Sawiski and Other Are Speakers - Resolution Passed.
More than 2500 people attended a celebration on the site of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Mound at Blossburg, Monday when a resolution was passed urging President Hoover to accept the Mound on behalf of the nation.
Now being erected by Polish people of the United States, the year old mound contains soil from many localities in this country and in Europe. During Monday's ceremonies 1000 boxes of soil were deposited upon the mound.
Preceding the parade headed by the Bugle and Drum Corp of the American Legion and which included the Lone Wolf Troops of Boy Scouts, guests of honor and many beautiful floats formed at the post office and marched South on Main Street to the Park. The Tioga Band opened the program by playing several selections.
Mayor W. S. Roberts, who gave the address of welcome, thanked the people on behalf of the Borough of Blossburg and the Polish Mound Association for their cooperation in the project which is in its infancy and noted increased enthusiasm in the building of the mound. He stated that the State of Pennsylvania would assist materially in promoting the work of erecting the mound which was began a year ago.
William B. Wilson, a personal friend of President Wilson and a member of his Cabinet was chairman of the day. Mr. Wilson spoke briefly and said that President Wilson belonged to history.
The prejudices and rivalries, Mr. Wilson declared, are passing away and his accomplishments will be weighed. In the judgment of non-partisan atmosphere. His record has been made and we that were associated with him can neither add to nor take away from that record. The most that we can do, he said, is to interpret and clarify the record that has been made. Some cynic has said, "Gratitude is a hearty appreciation of favors yet to come." The falsity of that has been demonstrated by the number that have contributed to the welfare of mankind. The mound is the oldest form of memorial and aside from the pyramids, the most lasting. Father Suchos and his parishioners, Wilson said, are to be congratulated on the enthusiasm instilled abroad and in the United States.
Rev. A. Krajewiski, of Pittsburgh, who was appointed secretary of the afternoon, read the names of several noted men who had sent letters and telegrams of congratulations to the Association. Mr. Wilson then introduced the principal speaker of the day, Judge Joseph F. Sawicki of Cleveland, Ohio. Judge Sawicki said in part, "We are gathered here in this large and imposing assemblage to pay our homage and tribute to the hallowed memory of Woodrow Wilson, who will ever live in the history of America as a great President, who will always be remembered as a humanitarian, benefactor, author of the 14 points and father of the League of Nations, and who will repose in the memory of hearts of the Polish people as dear, earnest and sincere friend. In 1912 and 1913 when black clouds gathered upon the European horizon, a call for preparation was sent to the Polish Falcons of America and in 1914 when the World War broke out, the hour for to strike had arrived for Poland. The parliament of Italy said something about the liberation of Poland but its voice was drowned by the thunders of battle. Polish committees appealed in France and Ireland. A Polish legion was organized in America trained in Canada and finally took its place at the front. At the moment when bitter disappointment began to supplant our longings for a free nation, a friend arose, Woodrow Wilson of the United States. he proclaimed to the world a new political creed, a new Magna Charta, a new declaration of human principles. He announced to the world his famous 14 points of peace. Woodrow Wilson realized that the Polish nation could not survive unless assured a free and sure access to the sea. We are not gathered however to discuss the Polish question. Poles are not ungrateful, gratitude is their national virtue. Here upon this free soil of America, those of us who are of Polish ancestry which to show our appreciation and pay our tribute and homage to Woodrow Wilson, greatest benefactor and staunchest friend. Generations may come and go but this great memorial to Woodrow Wilson will always be a national shrine that will draw to its bosom the children of America. May the memory of Woodrow Wilson always ??? and the band of friendship between Poland and America always endure. May the spirit of Woodrow Wilson always permeate the hearts and minds of all nation to the end that permanent peace may reign supreme.
Dr. Will George Butler, Music Instructor at the Mansfield Teachers College was the next speaker and expressed his pleasure at speaking on the occasion of paying homage to Woodrow Wilson, one of the greatest Americans that ever lived. He said that the name of Woodrow Wilson and his 14 points of which he was the author would go down in history. We honor him today wherever we are and what ever we are for his deeds and his memorial. The Rev. A. Krajeski then read a tribute to President Wilson in the Polish language.
A resolution was also read and accepted as follows: To his Excellency Herbert Hoover, President of the United States. We beg your Excellency to accept on behalf of the American nation this Woodrow Wilson Memorial created by citizens of Polish decent of the United States of America to the sacred memory of him who will ever live in the history of the United States of America as a great president in the memory of the world as a ??? humanitarian and in the hearts of Poland as a dear and sincere friend. Signed John Suchos, president, Judge J. F. Sawicki, vice president.
The pouring of the soil on the monument was under the direction of M. F. Jones, supervising principal of the Blossburg schools. The soil has been collected from Poland, Italy, Austria and a number of Polish communities in the United States. At the present time, soil has been deposited in the mound from 3000 places. [the following two paragraphs are very blurry]. Se? ??? the ??? ??? the ?????? ??? in United States ??? ????? ???? ??? been granted.
Seated o the National ???? The Rev. ???Suchos, The Rev. A. Kraieski, Wm. B. Wilson, Judge Joseph Sawicki, The Rev. I. A. Maloney, Mayor W. S. Roberts, Dr. Will George Butler, Attorney Frank s. H??????, Professor M. F. ????,M. C. ?????ham, and Dr. D. S. Br????. The program ??? with ??????? by the Tioga Band.
Mark Birthday of Mound Plan at Blossburg.
Urge Residents of Many Communities to Bring Soil to Wilson Memorial Mound.
Blossburg - In observance of the fifth anniversary of the starting of the mound for the erection of the monument to Woodrow Wilson, a Grand Jubilee will be held Monday, July 27, at 4 p.m. at Island Park.
Every resident of the community is invited to attend the celebration and bring soil to deposit on the mound. A brigade will be formed to carry the soil to the top. The program will be in charge of the Rev. John Suchos, pastor of St. Mary's Church and the originator of the idea of the memorial. Already truckloads of dirt have been deposited on the mound and each individual is asked to further the project by taking soil by auto, truck or in a box. Many persons eager to do their bit have sent envelopes containing soil. The mound is made up of soil transported not only from Poland and her battlefields but also from many famous and memorial places in the United States.
The purchase of the property by the Polish Mound Association five years ago was widely noted. The Polish people were urged through Warsaw radio broadcasts to send contributions. As a result soil was received from 1,006 localities throughout Poland and with the soil 27,013 signatures.
The United States also responded to the appeal and more than 2,000 localities sent soil. Even the Polish people of Australia responded with a shipment.
The jubilee July 27 is planned not for the Polish people alone but for
every citizen in the community. Blossburg is a pioneer town.
The first Polish colonists came here and migrated to other sections in
Pennsylvania. The first Polish church in Pennsylvania was built at
Blossburg. While the monument is sponsored by the Polish people for
President Wilson's accomplishments in Poland during the World War, it is
being aided by people of many nationalities.
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