New York Honors Pulaski
Poland’s Casimir Pulaski Honored Twice Yearly In New York
Brooklyn, N.Y. … The courage and daring of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity in its fight for human rights in Poland fired the imagination and admiration of the entire free world in the decade of the 1980’s. This dramatic struggle for freedom and justice apparently also gained the attention and respect of Mario Cuomo who was governor of New York State at the time. In addition to participating – either personally or through his official representatives – in demonstrations the Polish American Congress organized and led in New York City, he also signed legislation recognizing the efforts of Polish Americans to support Poland’s fight against Communism. The new law declared March 4th Pulaski Day in New York to honor the Polish Count who offered his military skills to Gen. George Washington in America’s War of Independence. It gave New York’s Polish American community a second Pulaski Day each year. The traditional October Pulaski Day was already being observed since 1937 with the Pulaski Parade as its main event.
The Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress recently uncovered the existence of this obscure law. It came to the conclusion that October’s annual Parade is considered to be such an enormous event in the life of the Polish American community that it overshadows the purpose of the March 4th holiday.
Frank Milewski, president of the Downstate Congress, noted that the March holiday has been on the books for the last twenty-five years. “Should we continue to ignore it or should we take advantage of the fact we have an official State holiday we might lose if we show we’re not interested in it,” was his question.
It was decided to let government officials see that New York Polish Americans will not disregard the day and will observe it. It was also the decision to invite representatives of Polish American organizations which carry the Pulaski name in their title to participate in a commemorative ceremony planned at the Polish & Slavic Center in Greenpoint on March 4th.
While Gen. Washington had several foreigners as military officers in the Continental Army, Casimir Pulaski was the highest-ranked officer to lose his life fighting for the American cause in the Revolutionary War. He was given the title, “Father of the American Cavalry” for his contribution to the victory.
Even though Pulaski was Polish, he is a true American hero and a great American hero, according to the Polish American Congress. His remains lie in American soil for more than two centuries. He was a citizen of Poland at the time he died fighting for American freedom. Only until 2009 did the United States decide to declare him an Honorary American Citizen.
– Frank Milewski
In photo above: An obscure law signed by then-Governor Mario Cuomo in 1988 set March 4th as an official New York State holiday to honor Poland’s General Casimir Pulaski. A citation marking this year’s New York State Pulaski Day was presented to the Downstate Division of the Polish American Congress by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan through her personal representative, Anne Krzyzanowski (center). Accepting the citation were Congress Vice President Chet Szarejko (left) and President Frank Milewski. The traditional Pulaski Day is annually observed in October with the Pulaski Day Parade as its main event. – Photo by Polish American Congress