“Humbled – undeserving. What have I done that would warrant this recognition – the only mayor to have received this distinction.”
With these words and further comments about the extraordinary courage of the man for whom the “Jan Karski Medal” is named, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki accepted the award from the Counsel General of the Polish consulate. The event took place on November 4, following the last Sunday Mass at St. Hedwig Roman Catholic Church at 408 S. Harrison Street in Wilmington.
St. Hedwig and Wilmington’s Polish community were celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence following World War I. After the Polish language Mass, the congregation joined representatives of the Polish government and military for a blessing in front of the Pope John Paul II statue that stands adjacent to the beautiful church.
St. Hedwig was dedicated in 1903, fifteen years before Poland regained its independence. After the blessing, everyone went back into the church for the awarding of the Jan Karski Medal to the Mayor. Counsel General Maciej Golubiewski delivered remarks about the significance of the award. During WWII, Jan Karski fought in the Polish resistance and brought word out of Poland to Allied leaders about the Holocaust.
In his brief acceptance speech, the Mayor referred to his own Polish heritage and the fact that his grandparents had come to the United States from Warsaw early in the 20th century. He completed his remarks saying, “Mayors have a unique ability to affect events, fight against injustice and improve our small corner of the world.”