“I Came Here, Where Freedom is Being Defended, to Serve it, and to Live or Die for It.”


October is Polish American Heritage Month. Originally it was in August, after Michael Blichasz, president of the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia created the observance in 1981. President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation declaring August as Polish-American Heritage Month on August 17, 1984. However, because October was the month when the first Polish settlers arrived in Jamestown in 1608, the month was changed to October in 1986.

October 11 is General Pulaski Memorial Day in the United States to honor General Kazimierz Pułaski (Casimir Pulaski in English), a Polish soldier who fought in the American Revolution. He died on October 11, 1779 from wounds he received the Siege of Savannah on October 9. The observance was established in 1929 with Public Resolution 16 of 1929.

Kazimierz Pulaski (March 6, 1747-October 11, 1779) was a Polish nobleman, known as “the father of the American cavalry”. He was born in Warsaw. His family’s mansion was destroyed during World War II, but part of his family estate in what is now Warka, still stands. Like his father, became interested in politics. He joined the military and became part of the revolution against Russian dominance over Poland. The uprising failed and Pulaski was exiled. Three years later, he met Benjamin Franklin in France and on his advice, went to North America to join their revolution against the British.

He had a distinguished career, becoming a general in the Continental Army, creating the Pulaski Cavalry Legion and reformed the American cavalry. For his service at the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, in which he saved George Washington’s life, Pulaski was appointed Brigadier General of the American Light Dragoons. He was seriously wounded while leading against the British at the Battle of Savannah and died two days later aboard the USS Wasp. For his efforts, on November 6, 2009, As of 2014, Pulaski became the seventh of eight people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship. The other recipients are: Winston Churchill (1963), Raoul Wallenberg (1981), William and Hannah Callowhill Penn (1984), Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) (1996), Marquis de Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier (2002) and Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Gálvez (2014)

A Military and Religious Funeral for General Pulaski was held on October 9th, 2015. His white casket which was a gift from the Liebchen and Godlewski families made a tour of Savannah before being taken to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where it would be placed at the Pulaski Monument on Monterey Square.

This is separate holiday from titled Casimir Pulaski Day celebrated in Chicago commemorating Pulaski’s birth on March 4, 1746.

Sufjan Stevens recorded a song “Casimir Pulaski Day” about his experiences of the holiday, interwoven with his memories of a friend’s battle with cancer. Pulanski was also commemorated on the 2 cent stamp in 1931.

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