What Is The Polish Falcons Of America?
Since its inception, the Polish Falcons of America has been growing and changing to meet the needs of our members. You are cordially invited to discover how your membership in the Falcons can make a difference in your life and in the lives of your loved ones.
Our Fraternal Structure – We are a nonprofit fraternal benefit society owned by our insured members. Our members belong to local Nests (lodges) within our eight Districts and have a voice in our operations and direction. Members can participate at the nest, district and national level in a host of exciting social, civic, athletic, and benevolent activities.
Falcon Pride – We take a leadership role in promoting cultural awareness within our membership and our communities. As our ethnic traditions are passed on from generation to generation, we proudly preserve our rich heritage while documenting and publishing the many achievements and activities of the Polish-American community and Poland.
The Falcon organization is affiliated with and/or supports the Polish American Congress, Polish Museum of America, Polish American Immigration and Relief Committee Inc., the Polish Army Veterans Association, State and National Fraternal Congresses, Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh, Orchard Lake Schools, Polish American media and the Kosciuszko Foundation.
The Falcon record speaks for itself: its financial condition is solid, and its many programs and activities aim to improve the physical, mental and social condition of its members, young and old alike.
Origins Of The Falcons
The Polish Falcons of America, a fraternal benefit society and physical fitness organization, is a direct outgrowth of a similar organization which developed in Poland in 1867 incorporating physical education according to the Latin maxim "mens sana in corpore sano," or a sound mind in a sound body. The same saying in Polish is "Wzdrowym ciele zdrowy duch."
|The Polish Falcons of America is a direct outgrowth of a similar organization which developed in Poland in 1867.
A Falcon is a daring, fearless bird, famous in song and in story. It was adopted as the official emblem for the organization because of its independence, strength and fearless defense of its domain.
The first Nest, or lodge, in the United States was organized by Felix L. Pietrowicz on June 12,1887 in Chicago, Ill. Druh Pietrowicz became the Nest's first Secretary. Druh Frank Stefanski was chosen as the first President.
By 1894, there were 12 Nests in existence in the U.S. On January 7 of that year, representatives from four of these Nests, all from Chicago, met and decided to incorporate and form a national organization. A charter was granted the group on May 1, 1894 under the name "Alliance of Polish Turners of the United States of America," under the laws of the State of Illinois.
Thus came into existence the only Polish organization in America dedicated to physical culture and athletics, believing in the principle that within a healthy body there lies a healthy mind.
By action of the National Convention held in July 1901 the organization's National Headquarters moved to South Bend, Ind.
National Headquarters returned to Chicago in 1905 following the Seventh Convention when the delegates agreed to join the Polish National Alliance as an autonomous department of the PNA. The decision to merge with the PNA eventually led to a split at the Ninth Convention in 1909 in Cleveland, Ohio. A dissident group of delegates created the "Free Falcons" with Emil Elektorowicz as President. At a Convention held in December 1912, in Pittsburgh, Pa., the reunification of the two groups was realized through the efforts of Dr. Theophil A. Starzynski. The new National Headquarters was located in Pittsburgh.
By Amendments to the Charter on April 14, 1914, the corporate name became "Polish Falcons Alliance of America," and its purposes were modified to read as follows:
"The object of the Polish Falcons Alliance of America is to regenerate the Polish race in body and spirit and create of the immigrant a National asset, for the purpose of exerting every possible influence towards attaining political independence of the fatherland."
This organization continued until September 24, 1924, when a new corporation was formed under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with its domicile in the city of Pittsburgh, where National Headquarters was maintained from 1912 to 1984. In the summer of 1984, National Headquarters was moved to Green Tree, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh.
Because of the realization of its earlier purposes, the aims of the new corporation were set forth as follows:
"To maintain private parks, clubhouses and the facilities for skating, boating, trotting and other innocent and athletic sports, including clubs for such purposes in order to improve the physical, mental and social condition of its members."
In order to extend material benefits to its members, a new organization under the name of "Polish Falcons of America" was organized and incorporated in Pennsylvania on March 30, 1928. As set forth in its charter, the purposes of this organization differ materially from those of its predecessors. In the language of the charter, these purposes are as follows:
"The purposes for which the society is formed are: to create, establish, accumulate and maintain a fund, from monthly dues and assessments collected from its members, which fund is to be applied and used for the payment of sick, accident, and death benefits; and to promote, develop and maintain social and educational activities and physical culture; organize, create and establish in Pennsylvania and other States of the United States of America, subordinate lodges or branches."
Falcons And The War Movement
The Polish Falcons of America serves a real purpose today, and its history is replete with outstanding achievements, notable are its activities in World War I.
Founded on the same principles as the organization in Poland, the Polish Falcons of America during its many years of untiring efforts was able to constantly harmonize the obligations of its members towards their adopted country, the United States of America, and towards Poland, the land of their forefathers.
The great patriot of two countries, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, whom the Falcons have chosen for their patron, serves as an inimitable model and ideal. Like Kosciuszko, who fought for the independence of America and Poland with equal zeal, courage and loyalty, Polish Falcons fought in World War I for the liberation of Poland in the Polish Army of France as well as with the United States Armed Forces.
|Polish Falcons fought in World War I for the liberation of Poland in the Polish Army of France as well as with the United States Armed Forces
In 1912, Dr. Theophil A. Starzynski was unanimously elected President of the Falcons after a merger of two dissident Falcon groups. From that time on, he was active both here and abroad, preparing the Falcons for any emergencies that might arise, particularly those affecting the European situation, which at that time was on the verge of a serious explosion. During the years 1913 to 1917 he organized Officers Training Schools in Cambridge Springs, Pa., Toronto and Camp Borden, Canada, where hundreds of Falcon members were trained as officers. These later served in the Polish Army in France and in Poland. When the United States entered the war in 1917 many became officers in the United States Army.
The Falcons had 12,000 well trained and disciplined members ready for army duty at the time. Of these, 7,000 answered President Woodrow Wilson's first call for volunteers when war was declared against Germany. About 50,000 other Poles followed in their footsteps by volunteering before the draft.
The rest, numbering 5,000, patiently awaited the opportunity to volunteer in the long heralded Polish Volunteer Army first proposed by the universally beloved Polish pianist, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, at a Special Convention of the Polish Falcons called by Starzynski on April 3, 1917 in Pittsburgh.
Although circumstances prohibited formation of this Army, another arose in its stead under a special decree of the President of France. This Army, the Polish Army in France, was formally organized on French soil. Through the untiring efforts of Paderewski and Dr. Starzynski, the American government later authorized the recruiting of volunteers in America for this Army.
Again, the Polish Falcons were the first to answer the call to arms as 5,000 members joined, followed by 27,000 other Poles, a majority of whom were Falcon trained.
These men were trained in Canada, fought in France, later in Poland and greatly contributed to the liberation of Poland.
When the United States entered World War II, Falcon members and most of our Nest physical instructors, all physically fit and well drilled, answered our country's call for military help. Many of these received prompt promotions and many covered themselves with glory on the field of battle.
Today, the Falcons, besides maintaining a Mortuary fund, exerts much effort for the physical, mental and cultural welfare of all its members. It has never lost sight of the fact that one of its original purposes was physical culture and athletics.
For more information, contact PFA National Headquarters toll-free at 1-800-535-2071 or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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