National Medal Winner
Nowak, Jan, Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1996
The Liberty Bell and the freedom it represents
"The Liberty Bell comes immediately to mind. It is a double symbol: of the American people gaining their own freedom, and of Americans achieving liberty for other nations.
"The replica of the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was installed on October 24, 1950, in Berlin. It brought the sound of freedom to people on the other side of the divided city. In 1951, Radio Free Europe adopted the Liberty Bell as its emblem, and its sound, broadcast over RFE and Radio Liberty transmitters, reminded hundreds of millions of captive people, from the Oder River to Vladivostock, that they were not forgotten.
"I was in charge of the Polish Service of Radio Free Europe for almost 25 years. It is recognized in Poland and other countries of the former Soviet bloc that Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were among the greatest gifts offered by the American people to the people of Europe and the captive nations. By ‘liberating' captive minds, these radios contributed -- perhaps decisively -- to the liberation of East Central Europe and victory in the Cold War.
"I was born on the eve of World War I in Warsaw, which was at that time part of the Russian Empire. Thanks to the United States and President Woodrow Wilson, I was brought up in a free and independent Polish state. I belong to the generation of children who were saved from starvation in the years 1919-1921 by Herbert Hoover's American Committee for Poland.
"My life was saved again, along with millions of other Poles, by the defeat of Nazi Germany in world War II, which would not have been possible without the United States.
"Finally, it was the American commitment to liberation of the people under Soviet domination by peaceful means which in 1989-90 brought back freedom and democracy to more than 100 million people in ten nations.
"Thus I feel the Liberty Bell is the best single symbol of what America achieved in this century for world peace and fort the freedom of other nations."
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