|The Article below was taken from the Brockton, Massachusetts "Enterprise."
Frank Staniszewski was an ordinary man who accomplished the extraordinary, his relatives and friends say.
Staniszewski, a Brockton resident who died last week at 84, was the driving force in getting federal
legislation passed to have his son, a British national killed in Vietnam in 1967, granted U.S. citizenship
"He was just an honest man who fought for what he believed was right," said Frank Staniszewski's
daughter, Lorraine Burbank of Harpswell, Maine.
The bill, filed by then-U.S. Rep. Brian Donnelly, D-Boston, and enacted in 1984, laid the groundwork for a
second law, passed in 1990, that made it possible for other veterans past and present to become citizens
Staniszewski's legacy is still being felt. It was because of the second law that Army Pfc. Norman Darling, a
soldier from the Bahamas with Middleboro ties, was granted citizenship after he was killed in Iraq last
"My father firmly believed that it was only right that if someone fought and died for a country, they should
be granted citizenship," Burbank said.
Two weeks after he celebrated his 20th birthday, Burbank's brother, Marine Cpl. Wladyslaw "Scotty"
Staniszewski, was killed in the line of duty in the Quang Nam province of Vietnam on July 7, 1967.
At a time when some Americans were going to Canada to avoid being drafted, the younger Staniszewski,
who had lived in the United States for only three years before his death, decided to join the military and
fight for his new country.
"Any country worth living in is worth fighting for," he told his mother.
At the time he died in Vietnam, the Marine was a British citizen and not eligible for citizenship because he
had not lived in the United States for five years.
After his son's death, the elder Staniszewski worked to get the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill
so that citizenship could be granted to his son posthumously. The bill became stalled for more than three
years in the House Immigration Committee.
Staniszewski, working with his wife, Rosina, spent three years writing letters to politicians ranging from
then-President Ronald Reagan to elected officials and veterans on the local, state and national level who
could help him in his cause.
The cause gained public awareness through several stories published by The Enterprise.
Staniszewski threatened to chisel his son's name off the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington if
citizenship was not granted.
In 1984 � 17 years after his son gave his life for this country � Staniszewski was successful in getting the
House to vote for a suspension of the rules to approve the citizenship bill for his son. It was then passed by
In what was called an unusual move, then-House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, of Massachusetts,
removed the Staniszewski bill from the Immigration committee and placed it on the agenda for a vote by
the full House.
"All (Staniszewski) wanted was for his son to be a U.S. citizen," said Charles Fiske of Bridgewater, who
became a lobbyist for organ donation after his daughter, Jamie, received a history-making liver transplant
in the early 1980s. Fiske was one of hundreds of local residents who joined Staniszewski in the fight to get
the bill passed.
"He set a precedent that still lives on today and made the House and Senate look at something that needed
to be changed," Fiske said. "The Staniszewskis were a single family with nothing to gain, but honoring a
dream their son had. They brought the case to the people and were able to get the bar raised."
Minutes after the House passed the bill, Staniszewski visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Fiske was
"He reached up and touched his son's name and he started to cry," Fiske recalled. "It was about a father
and son relationship and he was carrying out a promise to his son."
The news media recorded the moment as Staniszewski sobbed while placing two roses near his son's name.
"I place these roses here not only for my son but for all the young men who died in Vietnam," he told
reporters at the time.
Reagan signed the bill into law in October 1984, saying the plight of the Staniszewski family focused
attention on the deaths of noncitizen servicemen in Vietnam.
"Each was truly an American and every one of them earned the right to be an American," Reagan said.
Reagan died on June 5.
A native of Poland, Frank Staniszewski served in the Polish Navy during World War II and was imprisoned
by the Russians for three years. The family moved to the United States in the 1960s.
The elder Staniszewski, his wife and two surviving children daughter, Lorraine Burbank, and son, Daryl,
who now lives in Chicago became citizens in 1970.
A few years ago, Burbank traveled to Washington with her parents to see her brother's name engraved on
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
"It made me realize what a good thing my father and others had done," Burbank said.
In spite of the fact her father was a public figure during that time, Burbank described him as a private man
content to be home with his family.
"He always thought of it as a simple thing he did for my brother," Burbank said. "My father was compelled
to do this."