Friday, September 23, 2011

I Receive a High Honor from Poland

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I'm honored and delighted to report that at a ceremony at the Polish Consulate in New York last night I received the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit  -- one of Poland's highest honors awarded to foreigners. Poland's President Komorowski presented the awards -- alas, I was not able to be in New York, but my friend who stood in for me took a video of the moment when my name was read out:

Given my history with Poland, going back more than 30 years, it is quite an honor! As my old friend and colleague Doug Stanglin reported in USA Today, this award comes 28 years after Poland's the-Communist regime arrested me, threw me in jail, interrogated me and expelled me on trumpted up "espionage" charges.

At Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, 1983
What a difference a few years and the fall of the Berlin Wall makes.

In 1983, at the height of martial law and the Solidarity worker's movement, Poland's communist-led government detained American reporter Ruth Ellen Gruber on suspicions of "crimes against the state."

The then-bureau chief for United Press International was hauled in for questioning by police, then expelled from the country.

Thursday, the Polish government was at it again, with a new proclamation aimed at Gruber.

This time, it bestowed on her the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit, one of the highest honors awarded to foreigners.
.Read full story HERE

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Poland -- New CD By Lonstar

Michael Lonstar : Michael Lonstar &... (The Duets)

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I've been on the road on a very busy trip through central Europe and have had little time to post. But I did get to meet up with my Polish country singer/songwriter friend, Michael Lonstar, in Warsaw.

Lonstar and I met originally nearly 30 (yikes!) years ago, when I was a correspondent in Warsaw for United Press International -- he remembers us sitting at a party and talking about the Texas swing group Asleep at the Wheel (the Wheel's frontman Ray Benson is an old friend of mine).

In Warsaw, the weather was lovely and we sat outside at one of the city's plethora of sidewalk cafes and restaurants. He told me about some of the conflicts in the Polish country music world (rivalries, rival festivals, etc).

And he gave me a copy of his new CD, which was recorded in Nashville. It's called Michael Lonstar & (the Duets)  and features traditional country-style duets with various other artists, such as the American Billy Yates and German Mandy Strobel.