The Polish American Librarians Association urges librarians to treat Casimir Pulaski Day, celebrated this year on March 2, as an educational opportunity and awareness raiser about Polish-American history and culture. This holiday is unique to Illinois and was installed in 1977 to draw attention to the contribution of Casimir Pulaski, the Polish-born cavalry officer who was instrumental in winning the American Revolutionary War, and to honor Chicago’s large Polish population. General Pulaski Memorial Day, October 11, is a national holiday established in 1929 and reaffirmed yearly by presidential proclamation that also honors the general.
Pulaski (1745–1779) is recognized as the “Father of the American Cavalry.” He was an experienced military leader in the American Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and, at the insistence of General George Washington, was made a brigadier general and the first commander of the American Cavalry. He established the Pulaski Legion, a corps of Poles, Frenchmen, and German Hessians who were instrumental in saving Charleston, South Carolina, from British occupation in 1779. In October of the same year, at the age of 34, Pulaski died from wounds received while leading a cavalry charge in Savannah, Georgia. The general’s remains were ceremoniously reinterred at the Pulaski Monument at Monterrey Square in Savannah, Georgia, in 2005. Posthumous honorary U.S. citizenship was granted to Pulaski in 2009.
“While public libraries and schools in Chicago and in some suburbs will close Monday,” says PALA President Aldona Salska, public and school librarians can lead up to and follow the annual holiday with exhibits and programs that illuminate the reasons for the holiday and for honoring Pulaski and Polish American heroes in general. The national holiday offers an opportunity to librarians and teachers across the country to do the same.”
PALA also invites Illinois librarians to celebrate Pulaski Day March 2 at 10 a.m. in the Sabina P. Logisz Great Hall of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. Museum director and former PALA board member Malgorzata Kot notes that a short program will take place with elected officials from national, state, county, and city governments, as well as leaders of Polonia, and will conclude with an official wreath laying ceremony at Stefan Batowski’s painting of Pulaski at Savannah. Admission and parking are free and refreshments will be served.