Wtorek, 12 listopada 2019    Konrada, Renaty, Witolda  
POLONIA USA - Polonia in US

Cleveland PolAm Congress celebrates Constitution Day, names Bienia Grand Marshall Aundrea Cika Heschmeyer

ostatnia aktualizacja 04-12-2019, 11:42

Europe's first written constitution was signed in Poland on May 3, 1791. It embodied many of the same democratic principles contained in our U.S. Constitution. In fact, some of our constitution’s language can be traced back to Polish philosophers whose books were on the shelf in Jefferson's library! This common devotion to the cause of liberty and freedom is why Polish Americans celebrate the anniversary every year.

General Casimir Pułaski was honored by members of the Polish-American community in Cleveland at Cleveland City Hall on October 20, 2012.  Pictured is the group that worked to securing General Pułaski status as an honorary American (L-R) Mitchell Bienia, R
General Casimir Pułaski was honored by members of the Polish-American community in Cleveland at Cleveland City Hall on October 20, 2012. Pictured is the group that worked to securing General Pułaski status as an honorary American (L-R) Mitchell Bienia, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, John Borkowski and Francis Rutkowski.

This year event marks the 71st year the Polish American Congress – Ohio Division will host Constitution Day celebrations! The entire weekend of events take place in the area nicknamed “Polish Village” in Parma from May 3-5, 2019.  

The basic schedule is as follows (complete schedule and historical reference to event attached)

Friday, May 3, 2019
Polish Happy Hour: 6:00-11:00 pm
Ridge Road Tavern
5587 Ridge Rd., Parma.
Phone: (440) 345-5303

Saturday, May 4, 2019
Polonia Ball & Banquet: 7:00-11:00 pm   $50.00 pp
incl Miss Polonia, Jr. Miss & Miss Babcia Contest
Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church , 5500 W 54th St, Cleveland, OH 44129

Sunday, May 5, 2019
Catholic Mass
10:00 am - St. Charles Borromeo Church, 5891 Ridge Road, Parma, Ohio 44129
2:00 pm - Grand Parade Step off at Parma Circle with route heading to Snow Road
3:00 pm - After Party Parking lot of Unity Federal Credit Union, Ridge Road

In honor of his years of service, the 2019 Parade Grand Marshall will be Dr. Mitchell Bienia. A retired teacher, counselor, department head and administrator in the Cleveland Public Schools and the former owner of the legendary Kniola Travel Bureau, Bienia fell in love with his heritage as a teenager and devoted himself to exploring Polish culture, language and perpetuating this passion in others ever since.

For more information on the tradition, activities and Grand Marshall, please see the attached or CONTACT: Dr. Mitchell Benia  216-268-9960 mitchbienia@gmail.com


Mitchell Bienia was born with Polish blood flowing through his veins. All four of his grandparents came from Poland to America in 1900 making Mitch a true “blue-blood” Polish American. At baptism, his parents gave him the name Mieczysław to confirm to all that, indeed, their son was going to be proud to be Polish. 

Early years

His Polish-ness was fostered at an early age when his parents sent him to the PNA Polish School at the Polish Library Home on Professor Avenue in Tremont, before Tremont was a hip place to live. His parents, as well as his grandparents, spoke the Polish language, which inducted him into the Polish way of life, by celebrating Polish customs and holidays. Every Sunday it was a family tradition to go to Babcia and Dzadiek’s house for dinner, where all sat around the dining room table, telling stories of the ancestors and the courage it took to come to America.

When Mitch was in high school he learned of an opportunity to spend the summer at the former Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, to study the language and culture of his ancestors. The fire was ignited, and from that day forward, he was an ardent Pole. 

Growing as a Pole

As soon as he finished college, he had a desire to travel to Poland to meet relatives, to whom his family was sending packages and $10.00 each month since the end of World War II, a modest sum by American standards at the time, but quite helpful to the Poles in post-war Europe, nearly a whole month’s wage. In 1967 that opportunity came to him, as he was welcomed into the home of his family in Tarnów, in southeastern Poland. He was the family’s first American-born relative to visit Poland! They greeted him with the Polish proverb “Gość w dom, Bóg w dom" – a guest in the home is God in the house. At that moment Mitch’s heart melted and forever he was a Pole. Most touching moments came when Mieczysław saw familiar photos of his American family hanging on the wall.


As he began his career as an educator in Cleveland, Ohio, he returned to Poland nearly every summer since then, making contact with more family members. In the 1970’s he founded American Teachers Abroad, Inc. and established English language summer schools in Poland, first in Kraków, then in Wrocław, and finally in Warsaw, which eventually spread to Volgograd, Russia. His heart led him to his Polish-born wife, Krystyna. In 1994 his daughters walked with him the 175 miles in the pilgrimage from Warsaw to Częstochowa. He was becoming a true Pole.

As a rising force in the Cleveland Public Schools, he continued his education, receiving a Master of Arts degree from John Carroll University, and a Doctor of Education degree from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.


After retiring from the Cleveland Public Schools in 1995, Mitch and Krysia decided to indulge their passion for travel. Slavic Village-based Kniola Travel was one of the first Polish-owned businesses in Cleveland and the owner was ready to sell. The two earned the necessary certification and started another adventure with this project. They operated the business for more than 25 years and traveled to more than 60 countries in the process. A grand second career indeed!

This flexibility allowed Mitch to indulge his Polish passion as well. In 1999 he moved to Poland teach English at Nicolaus Copernicus High School in Warsaw for a semester and work on his own conversational Polish speaking abilities. By this time he was completely involved with the Alliance of Poles of America, serving as secretary general. In 2005 the Alliance of Poles merged with the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, based in Chicago, Illinois. Eventually he was elected as a Director, representing the states of Ohio and West Virginia, a position he holds to this day.

Community Service

During his long career he has held positions, both within, as well as outside the Polish-American community, such as, teacher, counselor, department head and administrator in the Cleveland Public Schools, president of the Northeast Ohio Personnel and Guidance Association, member of Metro Hospital Broadway Campus Advisory Board, member of PLAV Post 30, counselor and administrator at Cuyahoga Community College, student-teacher advisor at Cleveland State University, president of the Cleveland Society of Poles, director and vice-president of Polish American Society of Travel Agents, board member of PolishYoungstown, director at Steel Valley Federal Credit Union, national director at Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, as well as  numerous offices at the Polish American Congress – Ohio Division, including state director, national director, secretary, first vice president, and grand chairman of this very May 3rd  celebration.

Thanks to his lovely wife, Krystyna, he is able to continue to serve the Polish-American community of northeast Ohio. Together they have raised two highly successful daughters, Krystyna and Michelle, the latter is married to Joseph, and the two of them are the proud parents of a bright grandson, named Jackson.

Most Memorable Achievements

  • Chairing the Debutante Ball of Cleveland Society of Poles for nearly 10 years. Bienia attempted to make the Deb Ball the most elegant affair of the Cleveland social season by  raising the image of Polish culture by highlighting Polish touches at the ball. Dolls from Poland in folk attire served as center pieces. Among the hors d’oeuvres, mini potato pancakes were served with caviar. Polish mushroom soup started the meal. The music accompanying the debutante presentation contained selections of Polish folk melodies made famous by the world-renowned Mazowsze Dance Ensemble from Poland.
  • Walking the pilgrimage to Częstochowa from Warsaw with his two high-school age daughters. Bienia says the challenge was psychological, as well as physical. After walking 175 miles in extreme weather conditions, from all-day rain, to sweltering sun melting the tar on the road, it seemed at the end, that there would never be a challenge too great for him to overcome.
  • Teaching English in Poland. Bienia taught English for a semester in Poland. Although he has traveled to Poland more than 46 times, this experience of an extended stay gave him a different feel for the country. “I learned a great deal about daily life in Poland,” Bienia says. “I also gained an immense understanding of Polish youth, their goals, aspirations, fears and joys.”
  • Securing General Casimir Pułaski status as an honorary American. In 2009, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich had introduced a bill into the US House of Representatives which would make Polish General Casimir Pułaski an honoraryAmerican citizen posthumously. At this point, this honor had been granted to only six other persons in US history. Representative Stephen King (R-Iowa), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, had the power to block the bill and unfortunately, was against it. Kucinich needed representatives from his congressional district to speak to King to change his mind.  Kucinich selected Mitchell Bienia, together with John Borkowski and Francis Rutkowski, to fly to Washington to meet with King. The three men met with King for nearly an hour discussing the Pułaski merits. Several weeks later, Kucinich called Bienia to tell the good news. Rep. King had changed his mind, and would back Kucinich’s bill. On November 6, 2009, President Barak Obama signed the resolution proclaiming Casimir Pulaski to be an honorary citizen of the USA posthumously.



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