Former Polish President to be Honored in Chicago

President Lech Walesa will accept the Lincoln Leadership Prize, from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, during a ceremony in February

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    Alik Keplicz, AP
    This June 4, 2009 file photo shows former Polish President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa smiling after creating a domino effect with 20 red blocks representing other then-European communist countries in a symbolic fall of communism, during a concert in Gdansk.

    Former Polish President Lech Walesa will be honored in February with an award from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

    Walesa will accept the Lincoln Leadership Prize during a ceremony Feb. 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.

    The award recognizes people whose "lives and actions exemplify Lincoln's legacy of leadership," said the foundation's CEO, Carla Knorowski.

    Walesa is a former shipyard worker and Nobel Peace Prize winner who in 1990 became the first democratically-elected president in Polish postwar history. He served until 1995.

    He first became known for his struggles to win worker's rights in Poland.

    "I am honored to be awarded the Lincoln Leadership Prize," he said in a statement. "This prize from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation also pays homage to the Polish nation which more than two decades ago peacefully and democratically conducted an economic and social revolution.  As a result of this transformation, Poland entered a period of prosperity and justice."

    Walesa visited Chicago in January and October 2010 to support Republican Adam Andrzejewski in his campaign for the governor's office.

    Past winners include Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Astronaut James Lovell Jr. and the late NBC television journalist Tim Russert.