A “New” Kosciuszko Bridge
Greenpoint (Brooklyn), N.Y. … As the Downstate New York Division of the Polish American Congress announced it is forming a committee to observe the 75tth anniversary of New York’s Kosciuszko Bridge in 2014, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) is already talking about holding a special ceremony in 2018 to mark the opening of the “new” Kosciuszko Bridge.
Rep. Maloney’s 12th Congressional District of N.Y. includes the large Polish community of Greenpoint.
At a press conference she held in the Greenpoint section of her District, Ms. Maloney announced that construction of an entirely “new” Kosciuszko Bridge should begin before the end of this year now that federal funding to cover 85% of the 800 million needed for the project has become available.
N.Y. State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol thanked Ms. Maloney for her “hard work and diligence” in obtaining the funding.
The City of New York named the bridge after General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the Polish military engineer who volunteered in General George Washington’s Continental Army to fight for the cause of American independence.
Kosciuszko is often referred to as ”America’s First Emancipator” because of his concern about the existence of slavery in America at the time he came to offer his services to General Washington.
Before returning to Europe in 1798, Kosciuszko wrote his Last Will and Testament naming Thomas Jefferson as his executor. The will directed Jefferson to use the funds to purchase and set free African slaves. Kosciuszko signed the document sixty-five years before Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
General Kosciuszko has remained a puzzle to many historians. In addition to fighting against the European powers which were dismembering Poland the same time the American Revolution was taking place, this Polish officer came to America to help the American people break away from the British Crown and become a free and independent nation.
As Kosciuszko’s closest American friend, Thomas Jefferson, has probably formulated the most accurate explanation for this Pole’s unbridled zeal. “He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known and of that liberty which is to go to all and not to the few or rich alone.” he said.
In photo on right: Downstate N.Y. Polish American Congress President Frank Milewski thanks Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney for her efforts on behalf of a “new” Kosciuszko Bridge to replace the existing one. Part of the present Kosciuszko Bridge is visible in the background. Photo by Polish American Congress Downstate NY
Carolyn Maloney is a genuine and longtime friend of New York’s Polish community, according to Frank Milewski, president of the Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress who attended the press conference and presented his recollections of the bridge’s early days.
He also told Ms. Maloney the Polish American Congress appreciated her decision to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 490, the proposed law which would let Polish citizens visit the United States without the need to first obtain an American visa.
With the Kosciuszko Bridge about to be dismantled and replaced by the new one, its past existence has been recorded in the movie, “The Godfather.” In the movie’s segment showing the funeral of Marlon Brando in the role of the Godfather, the scene was filmed at Calvary Cemetery and shows a section of the bridge in the background.
– PAC – Downstate NY Division