Saturday, July 23, 2011

Little pieces of paper

Today the river's name is Marecchia. The Greeks called it Αριμινος (Ariminos).  The Greek name survives in "Rimini" which forms part of the name of the region through which this river flows to the Adriatic Sea.  Near here it was that Plutarch says that Julius Caesar, as he was crossing the Rubicon from Cis-Alpine Gual into Italy quoted Menander, saying:  "Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος"  (Let the die be cast).  Caesar would meet with the Roman Senate in Rimini and there begins a story of Empire and power and dominion about which, if  you wish to know more, there have been many notable words written elsewhere.

Three hundred years or so later, Ivan (Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος) stood before Arcadius, the Emporer of the Eastern Roman Empire accused of evil doing and no wonder, Ivan, or John, the Golden Mouthed as he was called,  preached against the abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders.  Gaudentius, the Bishop of Rimini, along with Ambrose, rose to John's  defense. Gaudentius was also present at the Synod of Rimini in which  some 400 Bishops of the church rejected the efforts to inject the words "the Son is like the Father" into the creed.

Gaudenitius also ordained a Deacon, a fellow named Marinus the Dalmatian.  Marinus was born on the Island Arba ('dark, obscure, green, forested') in Dalmatia. In modern Croatian Arba is Rab. Marinus was a stone mason who had come over to Rimini when Diocletian forked up the money for a  major construction project in Rimini. When Diocletian ordered the round up and extermination of the Christians, Marinus fled to the hills and hid out in a cave on Mount Titano from which he could see his beloved Jadrana, the Adriatic sea.  He died in 366 AD after leaving this simple will: "Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine." ("I leave you free from both men" i.e.  free from both Emporer and Pope).

Mount Titano
 These words sufficed as the constitution of San Marino until in 8 October 1600 a somewhat more elaborate written constitution with those words still at the core was adopted by the republic.  Did you know Abraham Lincoln was a citizen of the Republic of San Marino?  Jup, its true.  Lincoln's  reply to the letter sent by the government of San Marino is very similar to the words he would speak at Gettysburg not very long after.

The US Constitution came almost 200 years after the written constitution in San Marino.  In principle, the two documents are amazingly similar. On 3 May, 1791, the Sejm (parliament) of Poland enacted the third  written constitution for any modern state in the world.  On 4 October 1824, the congress of Mexico ratified the "Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States."

In 1835 Antonio López de Santa Anna abolished the Constitution of Mexico with his "Seven Laws."  On the second of  October 1835, some of Santa Anna's troops went to Gonzales, Texas, to retrieve some cannon left there to protect the town from Comanche raids, where upon the Mexicans began to learn the meaning of the phrase "Don't mess with Texas."  The Mexicans, uh, went away empty handed, that is to say - the ones who got away left empty handed.  A lot of Teksikanski have a thing about their firearms, if they got guns, you ain't gettin' 'em. No how, no way. Unh uh.

Back in 1833, the Austro - Hungarian Empire did a little round up of some illegal aliens. The Prussian Empire and the Russian Empire had both  objected strenuously to the Polish Constitution and invaded, bringing down what at that time was the largest country in Europe.  Some of the Polish soldiers walked across the border into Galicia where they were arrested.  The Austrians agreed to send these men where ever in the world they wanted to go.  The frigates Guerriere and Hebe set sail from Trst, then controlled by Austria, bound for New York City, Amerika arriving July 14th, 1834.

Andrej Felix Wardzinski was aboard that flotilla.  He made his way to New Orleans where he was recruited by Captain Amasa Turner to serve in the Texas Army.  Wardzinski arrived in Velasco on January 28th 1836 according to Headright Certificate No. 379 issued by the Harrisburg Board
of Commsioners.  On page 171 of the army rolls in the General Land Office Mr. Wardzinski is shown as a member of Captain Smith's Company on Galveston  Island, December 31, 1836.  Comptroller's Military Service Record No. 3102, 9 August, 1837, certifies Wardzinski to have been born in Poland in 1801.  He was five feet, seven and one half inches tall, of light complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair. Occupation soldier.  According to Bounty Certificate 691 in which he was granted 1280 acres of land,  Wardzinski served in the Texas Army from February 13, 1836 to August 15, 1837.  

A despot fiddled and Rome burned we are told.  The Davis boys fiddled and a despot napped. After Francis and Adolph Petrussewicz, John Kornicky and Joseph Schrusnecki who came with Wardzinski were slain with Col Fannin in a manner reminiscent of a later massacre at Vukovar, Sam Houston began drawing Santa Anna eastward.  Santa Anna's supply lines were lengthening.  Houston's supplies were closer thanks to Simon Wiess from Lublin in Poland who was nearby. Around 4:30 in the afternoon of 21 April 1836, Daniel and George Davis began to play their violins:   
"Will you come to the bow'r
I have shaded for you?
I have decked it with roses
All spangled with dew.
Will you, will you,
Will you, will you
Come to the bow'r?"
Over and over again they played the song.  Santa Anna didn't seem to notice or respond as the Teksikans advance silently across the nearly one thousand meters of open ground between the two camps. When they reached point blank  range, the Teksikans fired.  The Meksikans fled.  In eighteen minutes it was all over.  Santa Anna was captured.    

After the Battle of San Jacinto, in which he had served with Captain Turner, Wardzinski drops out of sight for a while and his land was sold for back taxes.  He reappears briefly in the records with the First Tennessee  Regiment of the U.S. Army under Colonel William B. Campbell on June 30 1846 as they land on Los Brazos de Santiago (the Arms of St James -  where Peneda landed in 1519 and about which we talked in Na Naší Půdě Straší). The First Tennessee was assigned with Quitman's brigade to take  Fort Diablo in Monterrey. They were out in front of the attack and  Wardzinski is separated from his unit for a little while during the melee.  Before the smoke cleared he was back in the thick of things.  That day they earned the nickname "The Bloody First."  In 1847 the unit returned to Texas and was mustered out in May.  Afterward Wardzinski fades from view entirely.

Other writers have noted that too many Slavic immigrants to Texas are invisible in the English records.  Perhaps it was because  they didn't speak English and Texas was big enough that it often wasn't necessary.  There were enough Slavs of various sorts here that unless you owned land there was often no need to be on the record anywhere.  Marriages and births were recorded in church records in those times. Sadly some of those records have been lost to mice and mold and are no longer available to us.  There were Anglos who came here too in those times to be incognito and they succeeded.

Little pieces of paper.  Men and women will fight and die for little pieces of paper.  Little scraps of paper which tell the story of their aspirations for just a little bit  of freedom.  Little bits of paper which free people from pope and despot alike.  Little pieces of paper worth traveling half way around the world to defend.  Wardzinski did and he wasn't alone as you saw.  The Polski were not the only Slavs who came to help in the struggles in Texas for freedom, and Slavs weren't  the only ones who joined in this task of love either. All kinds of people joined in the effort for a little piece of paper worth bleeding and dieing for. There are other stories, lots of them, but some of those you have most likely read elsewhere.

There were all sorts of immigrants to Texas. Some were kruh or chleb (bread) immigrants. Some came for the freedom from pope and potentate guaranteed by the fourth written constitution of any nation in the modern world.  Father Leopold Moczygemba would come later to found the first Polish settlement in North America at Panna Maria.  Some had come to fight and die for that little piece of paper and what it meant. For many, no matter how long their families have been here, no much they love this place,  there is an awareness that HOME is far far away.  Far away in time, far away in distance, far away emotionally, sometimes just far far far away. Sometimes all you can do is have a little cry and go on.  Far far away ,,,

On YouTube, you make "friends."  Most of those friendships are  superficial.  Maybe most all of them are.  Usually you don't know any thing really about them except the music they listen or the videos they make. Too many people make videos which border on lewdness.  A lot of the videos you see are simply superficial.  Either way, that may tell something about the individual who posts them.  Sometimes you run across a fellow video maker who somehow injects emotion and skill into their production. Those you respect.  You enjoy their work for the sake of the art, for the sake of the expression.

One of this last sort, kotasierota, one of the kind who seem to be real people, returned HOME to Poland for a holiday not long ago.  Went to a place not awfully far from where Croats once roamed the prairies and the hills a millennium or so ago.  I was jealous, and happy at the same time.  Not all of us get to go daleko daleko ,,, far far away 

Daleko Daleko

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac

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