San Diego's Polish Community Mourns

Polish immigrants are in disbelief at the deaths of their president and dozens of leaders

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego

    Hundreds of Polish immigrants in San Diego are grieving the tragic deaths of President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of political, military and religious leaders.

    Among those killed in the plane crash were Poland's army chief of staff, the navy chief commander, and heads of the air and land forces.

    San Diego's Polish Community Mourns

    [DGO] San Diego's Polish Community Mourns
    Hundreds of Polish immigrants in San Diego are grieving the tragic deaths of President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of political, military and religious leaders. (Published Sunday, Apr 11, 2010)

    At St. Maximillian Kolbe Polish Mission in Pacific Beach the congregation came together to mourn as a community Saturday night. The mood was solemn.

    “Our hearts are crying, we're crying,” Marek Brzesz said.

    Inside the church, the Polish flag bore a black stripe to honor the victims.

    “It was definitely a catastrophe for us. We are still in disbelief,” Victoria Turek said. “Just thinking of how the government will be dealing with all of this. We're hoping for the best.”

    Marta Michalski is a Polish immigrant. Once she heard about the deadly plane crash, she broke out in tears.

    “It's like someone from your family died, you know,” she said.

    “Our hearts were going out to Poland to those families who lost their loved ones,” Brzeszz said. “Even if we never really knew those people, we've never been close, but they were close to our hearts.”

    While still grieving the loss of a president and dozens of political leaders, some are hoping Poland can come out of this tragedy even stronger.

    “We are always trying to put ourselves together and help each other, so I hope this time won't be any different,” Zbigniew Galazka said.

    The message is one of hope.

    “Today is a bad day and tomorrow will be a better one,” Turek said.

    The body of President Kaczynski has returned to Poland. His twin brother met the plane and will accompany the body to the presidential palace.

    The plane carrying the body of Kaczynski arrived from the airport in Smolensk, Russia where had and 95 others had been heading Saturday to honor 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940 in the western Soviet Union.

    Also on the tarmac was Marta Kacyznski, the only child of the president and his wife, Maria, who also perished in the crash.

    Thousands of people lined the streets Sunday to catch a glimpse of the coffin as it makes its way around eight miles to the palace where thousands more have left flowers after the crash that killed dozens of Polish leaders.