Yesterday here in the Capitol, Speaker Boehner sat down with former Polish president Lech Walesa to talk about democracy and solidarity in Eastern Europe. It was Boehner’s first meeting with the Nobel Peace Prize winner who, as part of the “holy alliance” with President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, helped bring freedom to people in Poland and around the world.
On hand to help greet President Walesa was a person who shares bonds with both leaders. Teo Nowakowski is the mother of the late Paula T. Nowakowski, Boehner’s longtime friend and chief of staff. In addition to being a proud Polish-American – and devoted Detroit Red Wings fan – Paula was a great admirer of the “holy alliance.”
Indeed, Boehner has described Paula as a “warrior for freedom,” and her mother’s own story helps explain why. Though born in the United States, Teo was sent back to Poland at a very young age to live with her Polish grandparents. She lived through the Nazi occupation of Poland, seeing up close the cruelties of the regime. After World War II, she was evacuated from Soviet-occupied Poland back to America, only to watch from afar as the Soviet Union controlled Poland for much of the next half-century.
It was fitting, then, that after today’s meeting, President Walesa and Speaker Boehner signed for Teo – and her pastor, a Polish immigrant – a piece of paper bearing this quote from Pope John Paul II:
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us."