Casimir Pulaski

Casimir Pulaski

Pulaski, Casimir, Pol. Kazimierz Pułaski, c.1748-1779, Polish patriot and military commander in the American Revolution. Born in Podolia of a noble family, he participated with his father in forming (1768) the Confederation of Bar to oppose Russian influence in Poland. In the unsuccessful rebellion against the Russian-dominated king of Poland, Stanislaus II, he gained military fame. After the Confederation was suppressed by Russian troops, he escaped (1772) to Prussia and later to France. There he met Benjamin Franklin, who gave him a letter of recommendation to George Washington. Joining the Revolutionary cause in 1777, he served at Brandywine and Germantown. In 1778 he resigned a cavalry command rather than continue in service under Gen. Anthony Wayne, and he organized his own cavalry unit, the Pulaski Legion, which saw a great deal of service before Pulaski was mortally wounded while leading a cavalry charge in the attack on Savannah.

See biography by D. J. Abodaher (1969).

Casimir Pulaski Day is a holiday observed in Illinois on the first Monday of every March to commemorate Casimir Pulaski, a Revolutionary War cavalry officer born March 4, 1747 in Poland as Kazimierz Pułaski. He is known for his contributions to the U.S. military in the American Revolution by training its soldiers and cavalry.

The day is celebrated mainly in areas that have large Polish populations. Chicago has the largest Polish population in the United States. This is a separate holiday from the federal holiday, General Pulaski Memorial Day, which commemorates Pulaski's death at the Siege of Savannah on October 11, 1779.

Illinois enacted a law on June 20, 1977 to celebrate the birthday of Casimir Pulaski and held the first official Pulaski Day celebrations in 1978. The bill was introduced by Senator Leroy W. Lemke, a Democrat from Chicago. Chicago celebrates Pulaski Day on the first Monday in March with an annual parade. Cook County government (which includes Chicago) and the Chicago Public Library also close on this holiday.

Outside of Illinois

The holiday is also observed in Wisconsin public schools, celebrated March 4th, as outlined in state statute 118.02 (although this is not universally observed). Indiana also marks the day as a commemorative day by governor's proclamation (IC 1-1-12.5), although it is not a state holiday.

In popular culture

Big Black, a Chicago-based post-hardcore band active between 1982 and 1987, have a song titled "Kasimir S. Pulaski Day" on their album Songs About Fucking.

Michigan-born songwriter Sufjan Stevens titled a song "Casimir Pulaski Day" on his album Illinois. The song is not specifically about the celebration but about a personal event that took place on Casimir Pulaski Day as indicated by the lyric, "... in the morning, in the winter shade, on the first of March, on the holiday..."

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