Here in this Maryland suburb just north of Washington, D.C., on the chilly and overcast forenoon of March 31, 2004, a memorial mass was celebrated for the late Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski by Ks. Klemens Dabrowski. Coincidently, the rustic, stone, Our Lady Queen of Poland Parish Church, surrounded by stately trees, was very reminiscent of churches found dotting the Polish countryside.
Ryszard Jerzy Kuklinski, who was born near Warsaw, Poland on June 13, 1930, passed away on February 11, 2004, at the age of 73, in Florida. The mass was attended by members of the Kuklinski family, including the widowed Joanna Kuklinska, Polish Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Boguslaw Winid, Military Attache Col. Janusz Bojarski, Embassy Secretaries, many friends, and a large, wide cross section of local and regional Polonia. The National Polish Legion of American Veterans (PLAV) Color Guard, bearing the national and military flags of both Poland and the United States, was led by Major Filip Pawlisz, Commander. Internationally known soprano Alina Kozinska was the lead cantor at the mass. Tadeusz Mirecki, President of the Polish American Congress (PAC), Washington Metropolitan Area Division, organized the funeral mass, with the support of his wife Irena, under the auspices and sponsorship of the PAC Division.
Col. Kuklinski was fondly remembered and fittingly eulogized by three knowledgeable speakers: Pan Roman Barszcz, a childhood and life-long friend of Ryszard Kuklinski, gave a eulogy titled- "Farewell to the Colonel", subtitled: "Dear Friend From The Playground - Dear Rysiu The Dreamer," and "Dear Colonel Richard, The Realist." Then followed- "A Colonel's Farewell," delivered by Dr. Jan Parys, Poland's former Minister of Defense, who set the stage for Poland's entry into NATO, following along the then solitary and perilous path first blazed by Col. Kuklinski. Cmdr. Eugene Pawlikowski, PLAV, SSgt. Jagiello Post 191, provided the American perspective of Col. Kuklinski's brave accomplishments. The mood in the church was somber, and yet very uplifting, as the selfless life and many personal and professional sacrifices of the Colonel were recounted by the speakers.
Following on the same day, at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C., there was held "A Remembrance Evening Commemorating the Late Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski."
Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski presided over the event and delivered welcoming and preliminary remarks to the Kuklinski family, dignitaries and guests. The Ambassador especially recognized Mrs. Joanna Kuklinska for her equally strong patriotism, great courage, and role in unconditionally supporting and sustaining her husband during the dangerous period the family weathered in Poland.
The keynote speaker was Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski (U.S. National Security Advisor, 1977 - 1981). Some years ago, Prof. Brzezinski coined the honorific "The First Polish Officer in NATO" for Col. Kuklinski. He was that, but he was more than that; he helped to lead Poland into NATO, said Prof. Brzezinski. The Professor also stated that Col. Kuklinski was a true Polish patriot who sought no publicity, fame, reward or financial compensation for his visionary and altruistic mission. (While serving under Poland's communist regime during the Cold War period, Col. Kuklinski provided the U.S. and NATO with the Top Secret strategic plans and intelligence of the communist Warsaw Pact military alliance, including 40,265 pages of their military documents over nine years time). He opposed the Soviet (USSR) domination and control of Poland and the entire East European region. The Colonel was also trying to prevent a war between the East and the West which he knew would have resulted in the destruction of Poland. It was pointed out that in recent years Col. Kuklinski has been denounced in Poland as having betrayed the country, but mostly and most energetically by those who earlier had been most servile in their loyalty to the Soviet Union, and that the denunciations by them are no shame. In conclusion, Prof. Brzezinski said of Col. Kuklinski that he was -- A lonely hero, a lonely hero who risked all, so that Poland could be safe and that ultimately Poland would be free. He served Poland well.
Michal Kuklinski, the young grandson of Col. Kuklinski, ended the program with a very personal and warmhearted reminiscence of his departed grandfather. Michal's father (and son of the Colonel) had died a young, untimely death and Col. Kuklinski then became Michal's de facto father in almost all respects. Michal's closing statement, in Polish, was -- Throughout his life Poland was everything to my grandfather, and now it becomes the same to me.
CIA Funeral Mass for Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski
At Fort Myer, Va. on March 30, 2004
At the Chapel of this U.S. Army base, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, and across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) held a funeral mass for Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski. Present was Mrs. Joanna Kuklinska, the Kuklinski family, friends from Polonia, and many officials of the CIA, including Director George J. Tenet. Eulogies were given by Roman Barszcz, CIA Analyst Rudy Mendez and CIA Deputy Director James Pavitt. The last confirmed what Ryszard always said -- that it was Ryszard who recruited the Americans to help Poland, and not the other way around. (As reported by Tadeusz Mirecki)
In Warsaw, Poland on June 19, 2004
Catholic News Agency (KAI) reported on April 20, 2004 that Col. Ryszard Kuklinski's mortal remains have been transported from the U.S. and are now resting in the General's Chapel of the Military Cathedral in Warsaw, Poland. Chief Military Bishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz has stated that the funeral for Col. Kuklinski will be with full military honors befitting a colonel of the Polish armed forces. The funeral is scheduled to take place on June 19, 2004. Col. Kuklinski will be interned in Warsaw's famous, national Powazki Cemetery, in a plot along the most prestigious and honored "Avenue of Heroes." The city of Zakopane, Poland has donated granite for the tombstone. (As reported by Tadeusz Mirecki)
There are many additional photos available of the above mentioned Col. Kuklinski ceremonies, along with his eulogies and other related information, on the PAC Washington Metropolitan Area Division website at www.pacwashmetrodiv.org.