Recently, I was fortunate enough to be able to invest 17 days touring the wonderful country of Poland with my wife Marysia and family members. After being married to a beautiful Polish woman for over thirty years, I felt like I was returning to my own country of origin for a visit.
During the last three decades, we have followed all the Polish customs in our home and my children were fortunate enough to have a Mom teach them Polish as a second language. Finally we had the opportunity to experience the country that my wife so passionately loved as a child. We were able to visit all of her aunts and cousins, as well as the sites and places that we heard about for so many years. It was truly a trip of love as my wife so proudly reminisced about her childhood joys.
During this visit to Poland, we also took an organized tour for ten days with a nice group of people that was just incredible. On this tour we had so many wonderful tour guides that made the history of Poland come alive. We stayed and visited in large cities like Warsaw, the beautiful and historic cities of Krakow and Torun, the wonderful mountain resort of Zakopane, the port cities and Gdansk and Gdynia and the beautiful beaches of Sopot. Along the way we were treated to a stay in the town of Olsztn overlooking a beautiful Mazuurian Lake as well as take in the sights of the beautiful and lush countryside and quaint little towns.
What impressed me most about Poland as a country was the incredible Will and Pride of its people throughout its 1000 plus years of history. Because of its enviable geographic location and beautiful and fertile land, Poland was constantly attacked by its neighbors who wanted to conquer the country. Our guides repeatedly told stories of the foreign Kings, Knights, Princes, Czars, Naziís and finally Communists occupiers who tried to destroy the will and culture of the people.
Yet time after time, the spiritual Polish people never gave up hope. Even if it took a century or more, they always recaptured their land and borders from their predators and rebuilt and restored the buildings and culture that their neighbors tried to eradicate.
The Polish people have shown the power of good in this world, as well as the power of life itself. During World War II, Polish cities were absolutely laid to waste. They were turned into rubble. But you should see the cities now. Their beauty is a magnificent demonstration of the power of the human will.
The Polish tradition demonstrates who the true builders of society are: it is the people themselves. War ONLY destroys. It is in times of PEACE that life is able to flourish. Destruction is the result of war, while construction is the result of peace.
All that life needs is a little crack in the darkness to survive. Picture a huge parking lot that is paved with black tar. Oftentimes youíll notice a patch of plant life that has begun to grow where the cracks exist in the tar. Thatís all that life needs in order to blossom; a tiny crack.
Once the war was over, the Polish people went to work to rebuild their great land; all to be done WITHOUT foreign aid. This was actually a huge blessing for the Polish people because they were able to rebuild by themselves. The countries that bounced back the fastest after the war were the countries that did NOT receive foreign aid via the Marshall Plan. Poland was fortunate enough to be one of those countries.
As I told my children, they should be so proud of their Polish heritage. They come from a bloodline of people who take so much pride in their culture and their country. Their will to fight their way back after decades and even centuries of disappointments and tough times is a lesson for all of us to learn from. You must always follow your dreams and never give up hope under any circumstances. The resolve of the Polish people is a history lesson that I will never forget.