Recollection of a Man Who Knew What It Was Like Not to Have Freedom

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

A poignant and compelling commentary read in today’s print issue of the Chicago Tribune inspired this Independence Day 2017 post.

The opinion piece by Chicago attorney William Choslovsky ran under the headline, “We the people have a democracy to celebrate.”

Take a moment to read the thoughts from Mr. Choslovsky.

Done?

Okay back to my thoughts on this day, our nation’s 241st birthday.

Image of Stan Borys, a true freedom fighter, courtesy of his website.

Mr. Cholovsky notes how he gained a newfound perspective on America and the democracy the Founding Fathers created during a trip to the Middle East. There, a shopkeeper noted that in many nations, even those thought to be “democracies,” freedom — as guaranteed by our Constitution — really does not exist.

That thought brought back memories of my old friend Stan Borys, a Polish-born musician and actor I knew way back in the 1980s and 1990s when he lived in Chicago.

As a freelance writer for the Illinois Entertainer and other local periodicals, I got to interview some fascinating (and some not-so-fascinating) musicians for feature articles and profiles. Stan was one the most memorable and engaging.

During one conversation, I recall Stan noting that — and I paraphrase — “American musicians sing about not having freedom. I know what it’s like to not have freedom.”

What he was referring to, of course, was having lived in the Poland of the Cold War era, the years before the Solidarity trade union (or Solidarnosc in the Polish language) set the wheels in motion to break free from the Soviet bloc.

Stan made his thoughts about living under a Communist government known in his music, which as noted in this online report, often got him into trouble.

(Another recollection: Stan said he played Ray Charles music over the camp audio network one morning while completing required service in the military; yes, that got him into trouble.)

Like the shopkeeper remembered by Mr. Choslovsky, Stan’s comment about freedom will make me cherish the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America — especially on this day.

Given the mammoth challenges we the people face in the years ahead, it’s our right to freedom that will ensure the nation can celebrate its 242nd birthday.