Members of the Polish American Concert Band reflect on the crisis in Ukraine

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) — The Polish American Concert Band is 132 years old. During this period, members helped preserve Polish and American traditions.

“My grandfather was part of this group. My father was part of this group. We’re just very proud to carry on that tradition, said Director Emeritus and clarinetist Jim Mackiewicz.

For longtime members of the group, news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and evacuees heading to Poland seems all too familiar.

“Well, it’s a shame what’s going on in the world,” said trumpeter Stan Czerminski. “You know, my Polish homeland. I don’t know if I have any family left there. You know, my grandparents were from there. You know, it’s a sad situation in the world with the politics we have, I guess.

“I was 10 when Pearl Harbor. So I experienced World War II at home,” horn player John Nicholson said. “It’s a disaster. Total disaster. This guy acts like Hitler.

“Dad went through a lot of oppression while he was in Hungary and he described it all to us,” said trumpeter Steve Majer. “My prayers go out to the Ukrainian people.”

On Tuesday nights, members gather at the Polish Catholic Union of America on Detroit Avenue to rehearse the music that keeps their cultural heritage alive and continues to forge a bond between the two countries.

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