World News

Triangle Polish-American community shocked by crash

Posted April 10, 2010 11:35 p.m. EDT
Updated April 11, 2010 6:40 a.m. EDT

— A week of mourning has been declared in Poland after the country's president was among 97 people killed Saturday in the crash of a Soviet-built airliner.

Lech Kaczynski and many other top political, military and church leaders were on their way to a ceremony in Russia commemorating a 1940 massacre in which 22,000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet secret police.

Their plane went down just a short drive from the site of that massacre.

Members of the Polish-American Club of the Triangle said they were saddened by the crash Saturday.

“It was just a shock, and we could hardly comprehend it,” said Hanna Gracz, member of the Polish-American Club of the Triangle.

“I was devastated,” said Richard Kotek, president of the Polish-American Club of the Triangle.

Gracz and Kotek have lived in the Triangle for nearly three decades. They said the 1940 massacre has always weighed heavily on their hearts.

“It's just leaving an incredible scar in our heart. We are just deeply saddened by that tragedy,” Gracz explained.

The Polish-American Club of the Triangle will hold a mass Tuesday evening in memory of those who died in the crash at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 2817 Poole Road in Raleigh.

“For all of us, we mourn because this never happened in Polish history, that suddenly all the major heads of the state just die in the accident. It’s just really a tremendous loss,” Kotek said.