Polonia

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When the escape came, it was nearly complete. Today, the Polish peasant in America has largely disappeared as a clearly identifiable class. The immigrants’ children and grandchildren have spread through every level of American life—not only among the working class, but among educators, doctors, lawyers, millionaires, industrialists, politicians, and clergymen. Fewer than five hundred thousand of the ten to twelve million Polish-Americans are fluent in Polish; the swift and swelling tide of a changing world was against old values and traditions. Yet they remain a vital-and energetic community of Americans, of many talents and considerable material resources, whose voice is only now beginning to be heard. One national characteristic which all Poles seem to share, no matter what their era, social origin, or intellectual level, is a spirit of restlessness and curiosity which makes them unable to accept any limitations on their possibilities which they do not voluntarily impose upon themselves. This quality gave the New World a special meaning to the Polish peasants of a century ago; it is a legacy their grandchildren can cherish today.