Craig Day, News On 6
CLAREMORE, Oklahoma -- As we honor our nation's veterans, one Oklahoma man is sharing his story of how his life was forever changed during World War II.
Changed for the better, thanks to a special group of GI's and a single dollar bill.
On a day when we honor our veterans with parades and by waving old glory, it would be hard to find a man more grateful than Edward Kedzior.
"This country is really my whole life," Kedzoir said.
As he gets older, there isn't a day that goes by the grandfather doesn't think of veterans and a dollar bill that changed the course of his life.
"It's just a simple dollar bill," he said. "But it's like holding the Declaration of Independence. It's like having the Constitution in your hand."
Kedzior came to this country as a small child, the son of Polish immigrants. But he would never have known what it is like to be an American, if it wasn't for that dollar bill.
"These guys didn't have to do that," he said.
As the Nazi's swept through Poland, Kedzior's mother and dad were swept up in events beyond their control. The Nazi's forced them to work on a labor farm in Germany.
"He was taken. They didn't come in and ask for permission, they just came in and took him. My mom was actually snatched off the street. She was walking and was taken," said Kedzoir.
It was just outside Munich, where Edward Kedzior was born one day after the war ended, and as his parents faced an uncertain future.
"He realized at the end of the war, that the Russians were occupying Poland. There really was no future," Kedzoir said.
So, like many others, they decided to come to the U.S.
"It took tremendous courage I think to find a way to get to the United States," he said.
In the first wave of post World War II immigration, it was tough to find a way to get to America, if you didn't know anyone there. You needed an American sponsor.
Twelve American GI's from all over the country signed their names to a 1936 dollar bill.
"Without that dollar bill, we couldn't have come to the United States," Kedzoir said.
Just showing that bill, with those references, like Ralph Langefield of Ohio, opened doors to a better future.
"That dollar bill was the key," he said. "That's our passport."
Kedzior still has the old dollar bill. After nearly 65 years, the signatures are fading. But, as he ages, Edward Kedzoir hasn't forgotten.
"They could have just walked away. Most people would. But not these 12 guys," he said.
That's why to him, every day is Veterans Day, why he shares his story, and his love for America.
"It's hope. It's opportunity. It's freedom, and never forget that," he said.
Edward Kedzior is writing a book about his family's unique journey to America. He's also constantly working to track down family members of those 12 GI's so he can personally thank them.