Madame Marie Sklodwoska Curie Statue Dedication Ceremony in Polish Garden
June 7, 2009
It's not surprising that Marie Siemionow, MD, PhD of the Cleveland Clinic considers Madame Marie Sklodowska Curie to be a role model. Madame Curie is a role model for all scientists - especially women.
Most of us know that Madame Curie discovered the elements radium and polonium and that she helped create the theory of radioactivity. Anyone who has ever had an X-ray, owes a debt to Marie Curie.
What you may not know are the many struggles that young Maria Sklodowska had to face to learn. She was born on November 7, 1867, in Warsaw which was under the control of the Russian Tsar.
Women were not permitted to study at the University of Warsaw. So Maria and her older sister Bronya joined other students at a "floating university." The classes met at night, at changing locations to avoid detection by the czar's police.
Dr. Marie Siemionow at the new Madame Curie statue
Throughout her career, Marie met resistance because she was a woman but she managed to overcome them. She became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and is one of only two people to win 2 Nobel prizes in different fields. She won in Chemistry and Physics. Linus Pauling was the other winning in Chemistry and Peace.
Despite her achievements, in 1911 the French Academy of Sciences refused to abandon its prejudice against women and she failed by two votes to be elected to membership. Though discouraged and ill, Marie Curie kept working and mentored students. Curie's doctoral student, Marguerite Perey, would be the first woman elected to the Academy - in 1962, over half a century later.
She is recognized by a newly rededicated bust at the Polish Cultural Garden in Cleveland. It was fitting that Marie Siemionow, MD, PhD gave the keynote address at the ceremony.
The beautiful weather, the statue of Madame Curie and the pride of the Cleveland Polish community all contributed to the overflowing crowd at the event. As people entered the Polish Cultural Garden, the bust was covered with a red cloth and later unveiled during the ceremony.
Students displayed their award-winning works celebrating National History Day.
Nicolette Fee with her project about Elizabeth Blackwell
Bethany Santiago-Meyus and Christine Oszris with their project on Madame Curie
Professor Joanne Uniatowski, D.M.A. began the program by leading the crowd in the Polish and American National Anthems.
Professor Joanne Uniatowski leads the Anthems
In the short video below, Judge Diane Karpinski introduces Prof. Joanne Uniatowski for th Anthems and then Rev. Eric Orzech, president of the Polish American Priests Association, gives the Invocation.
Rev. Eric Orzech, president of the Polish American Priests Association, gives the Invocation
Judge Diane Karpinski then told the crowd the history of the sculpture of Madame Curie in the Polish Cultural Garden. The original sculptor was Frank L. Jirouche and the restoration sculptor was Timothy Riffle. The engravings were by Milano Mounuments and Teresa M. DeChant was the Art Consultant.
Judge Diane Karpinski
In the video below, Judge Karpinski gives the history of the sculpture and then introduces Cultural Garden president Paul Burik who tells how Madame Curie transcends nationality.
Cleveland Cultural Garden president Paul Burik
Mr. Burik also recognized the many guests in attendance from other Cultural Gardens.
Polish American Congress President John Borkowski then introduced many of the Polish VIPs in the audience.
Polish American Congress President John Borkowski
In the video below, Polish American Congress President John Borkowski introduces Polish VIPs and Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaks about Cleveland's Polish community at the rededication of the Madame Curie Statue in Cleveland.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Then Judge Karpinski introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Maria Siemionow, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Siemionow spoke about the accomplishments, firsts and influence of Madame Marie Sklodowska Curie.
Next, Polish Garden president Ben Stefanski told how women were most responible for the restoration of the Madame Curie statue. Restoration Donors were: Christine and Barbara Burke, the Cooke Family, Elizabeth Dabrowski, the daughters of Helen Karpisnki, Grazyna Palczewski, Maria Siemionow, Margaret Wong and the Liberty Holden Trust Fund.
Stefanski also revealed some terrific news. He invited the crowd back next year when the Chopin bust would be restored and in 2 years for the Paderewski statue.
These items are covered in the video below as well as a story that Stefanski tells about General Pulaski
Polish Garden president Ben Stefanski
After some concluding remarks and a benediction by Rev. Orzech, came the Playing of the Hejnal by Michael Carey.
If you wonder why the music stops so abruptly, learn more about the Legend of the Hejnal. An impromptu closing song signalled the crowd to mix and mingle and head to St. Casimir Parish hall for a reception and performance by the Alliance of Poles "Piast" Dancers.
More Photos from the Event
Polish Garden president Ben Stefanski with grandddaughter Bridget
Singing the National Anthems
Restoration Sculptor Timothy Riffle with his wife Lina
Singing the National Anthems
Joanne Uniatowski (right) and her mom
Congressman Dennis Kucinich with Rev. Eric Orzech, president of the Polish American Priests Association
Young 'Piast' dancers in the crowd
Restoration Sculptor Timothy Riffle with his parents
Listening to the speakers
Judge Diane Karpinski and Polish Garden president Ben Stefanski pose with the newly restored statue of Madame Curie