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Sto Lat: 100 Years of Polish Independence and the End of World War I

The Polish flag

“Sto lat” means 100 years in Polish and many Polish people will be celebrating the anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I this weekend.

Sunday (11/11) marks the 100th anniversary of WWI , and with a special resonance for Polish people. One of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, self-determination for small nations, meant Poland would re-emerge again as an independent nation after 123 years of being swallowed up by Prussia, Austro-Hungary and Russia.

100 years ago, Greenpoint had a huge Polish community, which sent many of its young men to fight in the Great War. Many of those local Polish lads did not come home. One of the fallen has always intrigued me. Frank Baliszewski, who lived in my house at 2 Clifford Place, died on October 4, 1918 from wounds he suffered in battle in France. I know little else about him, but I have often wondered about Baliszewski. His name still stands on a monument outside his parish church, St. Stanislaw Kostka (607 Humboldt St.).

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Greenpoint Doughboy: A Tragic Tale of A Greenpointer in World War I

November 11th will mark the ninety-ninth anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. Even though America entered the conflict late, declaring war in April of 1917, the “Great War” had a profound impact locally. At least a hundred and twenty-three local men died in the conflict. In his fascinating book Greenpoint Doughboy, author Peter McHale describes the life and death of one of his great-uncle, John McKay, a graduate of St. Cecelia’s Parochial School who lived on Meeker Avenue and joined the famous New York Irish Regiment, “ The Fighting Sixty-Ninth.” McKay tragically became one of the more than 116,000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice. Continue reading

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Greenpoint and World War I: Farewell Parades, Lives Lost & A Fitting Monument

Last month marked the hundredth anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, a war which had many profound effects on Greenpoint. A hundred and fifty local men lost their lives in the war and many more were wounded. One of the fallen has always intrigued me. Frank Baliszewski, who lived in my house at two Clifford Place, died on October 4th, 1918 from wounds he suffered in battle in France. I know little else about him, but I have often wondered about him. His name still stands on a monument outside his parish church, St. Stanislaw Kostka on Driggs Avenue. There were also two brothers, the McVeighs from Hausman Street, who fell within a day of each other in different parts of France. Continue reading

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