Sen. Kirk Visits With Polish President - NBC Chicago
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Sen. Kirk Visits With Polish President



    Sen. Mark Kirk, still in therapy for an ischemic stroke he had in January, visited Tuesday with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

    The two men met in Kirk's Chicago office, where Kirk was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

    It was his first visit to his office since his stroke.

    "I am deeply honored that President Komorowski has chosen to present me with the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of Republic of Poland," Kirk said in a statement.

    The U.S. Senate is considering a visa waiver which would make it easier for travel between the two friendly countries. Kirk had been pushing the bill, given the Chicago area's very large Polish population.

    "Poland has long been a strong ally of the United States, and I look forward to furthering my work in the Senate to strengthen the burgeoning relationship between our two nations," he said.

    Kirk had been in Poland in January, just days before his stroke.

    Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago); Robert Kupiecki, the Ambassador of Poland; Zygmunt Matynia, the Polish Consul General; Boguslaw Winid, the Under Secretary of State and Polish Permanent Representative to NATO and the EU; and Jaromir Sokolowski, the Under Secretary of State, were on-hand for the presentation.

    "I think the senator was justifiably honored, I could tell he was touched.  I think this is the third highest honor the Polish government can give a non Polish citizen.  I was very happy for Senator Kirk," said Quigley.

    Kirk, 52, checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital on Jan. 21. Doctors discovered a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck, and he was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Further tests showed Kirk had suffered an ischemic stroke and he underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain.

    In a video he released earlier this month, Kirk expressed his desire to get back to work as quickly as possible.