Sunday, October 11, 2009



Each year on this day, Americans pause to remember a patriot and champion of liberty who fought valiantly for the freedom of our Nation. During our struggle for independence, General Casimir Pulaski displayed heroic leadership and ultimately sacrificed his life in service to our country. His commitment to liberty remains an inspiration to us today, 230 years later, and it serves as a reflection of the many contributions Polish Americans have made to our national identity.

Born in Poland in 1745, Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski witnessed the occupation of Poland by foreign troops during his youth. He joined the struggle for Polish independence in 1768, fighting alongside his father with unwavering determination. Despite the tremendous courage of Pulaski and his compatriots, the foreign forces prevailed and Poland was divided among three of its neighbors. The young Casimir Pulaski was exiled, and, while in Paris, met America's envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, and learned of our nascent quest for independence.

Arriving in America during the summer of 1777, General Pulaski quickly earned a commission and led his troops with admirable skill in a number of important campaigns. He would eventually become known as the "Father of the American Cavalry." In 1779, Pulaski was mortally wounded during the siege of Savannah while trying to rally his troops under heavy enemy fire. Before laying down his life for the United States, this Polish and American hero had earned a reputation for his idealism and his courageous spirit.

Pulaski's ideals live on today in the many Polish-American communities across the country. These neighborhoods continue to celebrate Polish culture, while adding immeasurably to our national identity. Their contributions have expanded our collective knowledge, pushing the boundaries of science, business, and the arts. With each passing year, the cooperation between the United States and Poland grows, supported by the dedication and commitment of Polish Americans to our shared history. Today, as we remember General Pulaski, we celebrate our strong friendship with Poland, and honor those Americans of Polish heritage.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, October 11, 2009, as General Pulaski Memorial Day. I encourage all Americans to commemorate this occasion with appropriate programs and activities paying tribute to Casimir Pulaski and honoring all those who defend the freedom of our great Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Casimir Pulaski was born in Podalia, Poland, on March 4, 1747. He had five sisters and two brothers. His father gave him a pony when he was five years old and a horse when he was eight years old. As a child, Casimir learned how to shoot a bulls-eye while riding a horse. His father sent him to Warsaw to go to school. Then his father sent him to the Court of Courtland to be a page for the Duke of Courtland. While Pulaski was there, the Russians took over Courtland, so Casimir had to return to Warsaw.

Pulaski's father organized a group called The Knights of the Holy Cross. The Knights fought against the Russians, because the Russians were trying to take over Poland. Pulaski recruited men to be in the Knights, and he fought with the Knights. They fought bravely against the Russians, but they lost. Casimir and the rest of the Knights were captured and sent to prison. Then he was banished from Poland. He went to Turkey. He and his father and his brothers trained men to fight against Russia. The Russians tried to capture them, but Pulaski escaped back to Poland, even though he had been banished from there.

When he got to Cracow, Poland, Pulaski joined the Polish Revolutionary Confederates who were trying to fight against the Russians. He fought bravely and he helped the Confederates win the Battle of Kukielki, which forced the Russians to leave Poland. He was a hero to the Polish people, but later, the king of Poland, King Stanislaus, turned against him, and he had to flee Poland again.
Image courtesy of ArtToday.

Pulaski decided to go to America to help the colonists fight against the British. He got in touch with Benjamin Franklin, who was in Paris. Franklin gave him money to get to America and told the American Congress and George Washington about Casimir Pulaski.

After he got to America, Pulaski found General Washington in Philadelphia. Washington got the Congress to put Casimir Pulaski in charge of the American Cavalry. Near Brandywine, he saw the British planning a trap around the Americans. He led a charge against the British and defeated the trap. He was a hero to the Americans for saving them from the trap.

Pulaski trained men for the American Cavalry and the infantry. He wanted to start a special legion. The Congress gave him permission. He trained them to be experts on horseback. He led them to battle in New York City. On the way to New York, they had to pass through New Jersey. At Little Egg Harbor, they burned twenty British ships and took all their ammunition. Unfortunately, some of Pulaski 's friends died in the battle.
Casimir Pulaski and his Legion rode south to Charleston to help the people there fight against the British. They went after the British as they tried to escape to sea. Casimir and his men won again, capturing many British troops and supplies. Then Pulaski and his troops went to Savannah to try to capture the city from the British. As they were planning, an American soldier named James Curry informed the British of their plans, so the British were ready for the attack. Because of this, the Americans lost the battle and Casimir Pulaski got shot during the battle. He was badly wounded. The wounds became infected, and he became sick and died. He died on October 11, 1779. He was only 32 years old.

It was a very important thing that the hero Casimir Pulaski came to defend the colonies in the fight against Great Britain, and that is why children in Illinois get a holiday off from school on the first Monday of March. We honor the memory of Casimir Pulaski.

Polonez - Pan Tadeusz

Casimir Pulaski (1745?-1779) is a hero of two countries, Poland and the United States. Pulaski (in Polish: Kazimierz Pulawski) was born in a small town near Warsaw, Poland during the mid-1740s. In 1768, Pulaski and his father Jozef founded the Confederation of the Bar to defend Poland against the aggressive Russian forces, which later arrested and killed Casimir's father. Unable to prevent the partition of Poland, Pulaski left Poland and lived in exile in Turkey and the Balkans between 1772 and 1775, and then to Paris where he met Benjamin Franklin. Franklin convinced him to support the colonies against England in the American Revolution.

Pulaski impressed with the ideals of a new nation struggling to be free, volunteered his services. In 1777, Pulaski arrived in Philadelphia where he met General Washington, Commander-in -Chief of the Continental Army. Later at Brandywine, he came to the aid of Washington's forces and distinguished himself as a brilliant military tactician. For his efforts, Congress appointed him Brigadier-General in charge of Four Horse Brigades. Then again, at the battles of Germantown and Valley Forge, Pulaski's knowledge of warfare assisted Washington and his men.

Later in 1778, through Washington's intervention, Congress approved the establishment of the Cavalry and put Pulaski at its head. The Father of the American Cavalry demanded much of his men and trained them in tested cavalry tactics. He used his own personal finances, when money from Congress was scarce, in order to assure his forces of the finest equipment and personal safety.

Pulaski and his legion were then ordered to defend Little Egg Harbor in New Jersey and Minisink on the Delaware and then south to Charleston, South Carolina. However, it was at the battle of Savannah in 1779 that General Pulaski, riding forth into battle on his horse, fell to the ground mortally wounded by the blast of cannon.

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