How My Past Illuminates the Political Issues of the Present
By Donna Solecka Urbikas, Author
The whole time that I was growing up I can distinctly remember my parents’ conversations about Communism and World War II and how that war had devastated our family.
First it was my mother and my half-sister’s deportation from Poland to a labor camp in Siberia and their eventual escape and refuge in India, by way of the Middle East.
Then it was my Polish officer father’s imprisonment in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp and how he barely escaped being one of the 22,000 officers and intellectuals murdered by the Soviets in the Katyń Forest Massacres.
After his release from prison, my father fought with the Polish Army against the Germans in the Middle East and Italy. My parents first met in that whole turmoil and again years later in England after the war, afraid to return to what was then Communist Poland. I was born in England and we came to America when I was a young child.
The talk of war was a constant in my life as was the evils of Communism which my parents witnessed during the war and what they learned from our family in Poland during those repressive Communist years. We were political refugees, displaced persons, traumatized immigrants, and we wanted nothing more than to live in peace and have a place we could trust to be our safe and prosperous home.
America Provided that...
America provided that and we were thankful by assimilating, becoming US citizens, working hard, getting educated, and contributing to our communities, both Polish and American.
Watching the daily news these days of other political refugees seeking asylum, being killed as collateral in what seems a never-ending war in the Middle East, being denied entry as refugees to other countries, including the US, being targets of brutal discrimination brings back those childhood memories and our struggles trying to find refuge and to assimilate in what was for us a foreign country.
My father rightfully predicted that “there will always be war in the Middle East.” I found that ominous from my young vantage but today, I regret that his prediction has held true during the course of over 70 years since World War II ended.
Yet most of those people do not want war, surely not the women and children being murdered.
Yet most of those people do not want war, surely not the women and children being murdered. They want only what we wanted. It was always said in our family and among our Polish friends that people in America really don’t know war because no bombs ever fell on anyone’s head on American soil, no one ever lost all their possessions, no one suffered disease and hunger.
We have a sense of outrage and devastation from the 9/11 attacks but magnify that a hundred, a thousand fold, maybe more, and maybe then Americans will appreciate the struggles going on in the Middle East and in other oppressive countries.
During the course of writing my book, I came to realize that if we are not engaged in war, we are preparing for one, or dealing with the consequences of one. My father always said war is the result of the battle over resources, be they land, water, food, people. With our increasingly crowded planet, with the loss of species habitat, destruction of valuable ecosystems, increasing climate change, and the growing disparity between rich and poor, we are on a course of eventual destruction of our own species, due in large part to war.
It is only through our political will that we can reverse this process before it is too late.
Donna Solecka Urbikas was born in Coventry, England, and immigrated with her parents and sister to Chicago in 1952. After careers as a high school science teacher and environmental engineer, she is now a writer, realtor, and community volunteer. She lives in Chicago with her husband.
Donna Urbikas, thank you so much for sharing this article
at Book Readers Heaven!