Post Eagle Newspaper


Jun 12, 2024

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Come To West Point And Honor Kosciuszko!

Are You Proud Of Your Polish Heritage?

We send our children to Polish supplementary schools. We complain when comedians and politicians make fun of us. But are we truly proud of our heritage, of our culture or of our heroes?

Tadeusz Kosciuszko fought against the Russians for freedom in Poland and here on our continent against the British in order for us to be free of England’s domination and unfair laws. It is very possible that, had it not been for his defenses at Saratoga, the British would have won what we call the Revolutionary War. We would be part of the British Commonwealth, as is Canada, rather than the independent country which was allowed to grow without the stranglehold and limitations placed on it by another country.

Kosciuszko’s defenses at West Point on the Hudson River in New York were so strong that the British made no attempt to take it and, therefore, cut New England off from the rest of the colonies. It was his plans for those defenses that Benedict Arnold intended to give the British. The generals under whom Kcsciuszko served acknowledged his genius and all he contributed to the victories in northern and southern campaigns for which they gained renown.

This is the 185th year at which Kosciuszko will be honored by the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, but there is some concern about continuing the tradition.  The Academy is facing budgetary problems and cannot supply the personnel for public events which are not well attended. Liga Morska (Sea League) and Harcerzy (Polish Scouting Organization) are always well represented at the commemoration. Where are the parishes and cultural clubs? One or two Polish supplementary schools come, but where are the children of all the others? What better way to learn history than by standing and walking on the ground where the history occurred?

WestPointcadetsforwebPast generations which did not have the conveniences of modern travel methods came in large numbers to pay tribute to the heroic Kosciuszko. Are we less proud or just plain uninterested in our heritage and our Polish heroes. If we as an ethnic group are ignored, we have only ourselves to blame. Just see how minor figures in the history of other ethnic groups are memorialized by the media and the government. We, on the other hand, make so little fuss about ours that it is no wonder that our ethnic group is not recognized for the great contributions it has made to humanity.

If you want to bolster the Polish image, an enjoyable and admirable way is by seeing Kosciuszko memorialized and remembered at a major public facility in a beautiful natural setting on the Hudson. Come to West Point this year on Saturday, April 27th and each year thereafter on the designated date. The day starts at 9:45 am with Mass at the Catholic Chapel of the Holy Trinity. The Cadet Review and a spectacular parachuting exhibition follow at The Plain with the Kosciuszko commemoration at his monument at noon ending the formal presentation. (Did you know that the Kosciuszko monument was erected at West Point before Washington’s and that the cadets, including Robert E. Lee, contributed the funds for it?) For those who are interested, there is a luncheon afterward at the Thayer Hotel.

For information about the commemoration or about the Tenth Annual Kosciuszko Conference to be held on the preceding day, Friday, April 26, please check the website, e-mail, call F. X. Gates at 718.852.6812 or 917.913.3133, or Cynthia Bajdek at 603.718.1351.