The ballerina remained in her plane last night while the president's assistant for national security affairs brought her up in a speech to a group whose own ancestors' decisions on coming into the country had been surrounded by very little ambiguity.
"The idea of freedom is something that Poles understand very well," Zbigniew Brzezinski told the 900 delegates to the convention of the Polish National Alliance. The commitment to freedom and to human rights, Brzezinski said, was "being tested" last night in "a small personal way in Kennedy Airport. The freedom not to be coerced into leaving the country or staying in the country is part of our tradition, part of our law, and it is the only issue at stake at Kennedy Airport. We shall protect it.
Brzezinski, who had flown in for the speech from Vermont, where he is vacationing, said he had been in telephone contact with State Department officials in New York but was not actively involved in the negotiations.
Among the delegates to the convention, the talk had little to do with ballerinas and more to do with changes in the bylaws. And there was, as well, among the older women with their gray hair and vibrant flowing chiffons, the kind of iron pride that comes when the struggles are safely locked in the past.
"I think we were a little smarter than the ones who come now," said Henrietta Szczepankowski of Chicago. "Now they have telephone books in two languages, English, Spanish, whatever. We did it without all that."