• Salem Maritime National Historic Site

    Salem Maritime

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

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  • Central Wharf Restrooms Closed

    The Central Wharf public restrooms will be closed on Thursday and Friday, September 18th and 19th for exterior door replacement. They are scheduled to reopen on Saturday at 9am.

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The Polish Legion of American Veterans

A formal portrait of men in uniform outside a building
Members of the Polish Legion of American Veterans outside the old firehouse, c. 1948.
Courtesy of Joseph Kulik

Polish Americans often proudly point to the service of American Revolutionary War heroes Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski as models for later Polish military service in America. At times during the twentieth century, wars in Europe have complicated the allegiances of American Poles. During World War I, for instance, some first-generation immigrants saw themselves primarily as fighting to free their homeland, a position that sometimes created tensions with America's own war effort. By the time of the Second World War, the generation of young Polish American men who served felt themselves to be more unambiguously American, fighting in part to help their ancestral homeland but always intending to return home to the U.S.

After World War I, the Polish American Veterans Association occupied more than one location in the Derby Street neighborhood, including the firehouse at 128 Derby Street and a waterfront building that was vacated after the creation of Salem Maritime NHS in the 1930s. PAVA was one of many different groups of Polish World War I veterans, several of which amalgamated in 1931 to form the Polish Legion of American Veterans. The PLAV met for many years at the old firehouse, and after it burned in the 1960s, they relocated to 9 Daniels Street, the former home of the city's Polish citizenship organizations. The PLAV is still based in this location, the last active Polish organization in the Derby Street neighborhood.

Back to 128 Derby Street

Back to Salem's Polish Community

For more information on this topic, see these pages in the report In the Heart of Polish Salem.

  • For more about Salem's Polish military service and veterans' groups, see pp. 160-70.

Did You Know?

The tall glass fronted bookcase in the Customs House once held leather bound volumes.

Over 150 feet of shelving is needed to store the Customs Service records from the ports of Salem and Beverly at the National Archives' New England facility in Waltham, MA. More...