October 28, 2013 - Issue: Vol. 159, No. 151 — Daily Edition113th Congress (2013 - 2014) - 1st Session
COMMEMORATING THE LIFE OF POLISH GENERAL KAZIMIERZ PULASKI; Congressional Record Vol. 159, No. 151
(Extensions of Remarks - October 28, 2013)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E1585] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] COMMEMORATING THE LIFE OF POLISH GENERAL KAZIMIERZ PULASKI ______ HON. MARCY KAPTUR of ohio in the house of representatives Monday, October 28, 2013 Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, during this month of October, the American people honor the life of Polish General Casimir (Kazimierz) Pulaski whose love of liberty, bravery and military prowess in founding the American cavalry played a pivotal role in winning our American Revolution. Let his timeless story inspire generations to come. May the eagles that soar over both our lands--as symbols of liberty--strengthen our partnership in freedom's cause. Onward. Commemorating the Life of Polish General Kazimierz Pulaski Thank you to all who have gathered here today to remember and to commemorate the contributions of General Casimir Pulaski to our nation's victory in the American Revolution and to passing to us the blessings of liberty. As a young child, I first learned his name as the street on which our grandparents lived which was named ``PULASKI''. Kazimierz Pulaski was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1745, 268 years ago, son of Polish Count Jozef Pulaski and Marianna Zielinska. Within a little more than two decades, he would come to be known as a freedom fighter and ``the father of the American cavalry.'' Through his family in Poland, Pulaski became involved at a very early age--age 15--in political and military activity. He accompanied his father and other members of the Polish nobility to publicly oppose the Prussian, Russian, and Austrian empires' designs on dominating their Polish homeland. Pulaski pushed for Polish independence, free of outside interference. When he was outlawed in his homeland by the Russian empire after initial uprisings failed, he decided to travel to Paris, France, in a self imposed exile. In so doing, he came to befriend Benjamin Franklin, a father of our country, who also had travelled to France imbued with the spirit of the French Revolution and its values of liberty, equality, fraternity. They both were seeking alternatives to the empire-driven political systems of the European continent. Franklin was captivated with the ideas of the Enlightenment as he tried to help lead a fledgling nation, casting off the oppression of Great Britain's monarchy. Franklin was impressed by Pulaski and wrote of him to George Washington: ``Count Pulaski of Poland, is an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and conduct in defense of the liberties of his country against the three great invading powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia . . . he may be highly useful to our service.'' A century before their encounter, new ideas of how people should live, and govern themselves, were brewing and emerging on a European continent fraught with empires and suppression of individual liberty. These ideas were transformational concepts in human history. They revolved around how people should live and govern themselves. The new concepts emphasized democracy not monarchy; equality not subservience nor serfdom; liberty not repression; freedom of thought and reason, not dogma nor emotion; freedom of expression not regimented thought; freedom of press, not propaganda; and full separation of church and state, not theocratic control of government. For those of us living in the 21st century, with our nation an heir of Enlightenment thinking, perhaps we have become so accustomed to our way of life that we forget how radical these thoughts were at the time. Let us remember what a price was paid for their emergence globally. Pulaski's life reminds us of that early struggle of our founders to build a new America, casting off the remnants of old empires. Pulaski volunteered his services in the Revolutionary War of the United States. America's founders were about building a brand new nation girded by Enlightenment ideals. That struggle did not happen overnight. In fact we should recall that almost 4 decades after Pulaski first volunteered, the new America was still fighting for its future. The ballad ``Battle of New Orleans'' recounts America's fight to finally drive the British from its territory. You might recall the words from the last great land Battle in the War of 1812 . . .``in 1814, we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip. We took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we caught the bloody British in a town called New Orleans.'' Of course, this year of 2013, our region of the United States is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, when Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British in Lake Erie, the only time the British Navy has ever lost a battle on the high seas. The British monarchy finally was driven out of the westernmost reaches of the new America. So, imagine, Casimir Pulaski fighting bravely 33 years earlier before the War of 1812, at the dawn of the American Revolution. To my knowledge, there are no ballads written yet about his achievements, though they are legendary and worthy of expression. Pulaski travelled in 1777 to Philadelphia--America's first capital--a decade before our Constitution was drafted and signed. He wrote to Washington: ``I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.'' Washington knew that the colonies had no trained cavalry, so he met with Pulaski and introduced him to Marquis de Lafayette and John Hancock. Pulaski showed off some of his riding abilities, and tried to convince Washington of the superiority of the cavalry over the infantry. And in Sept. 1777 Washington persuaded the Continental Congress to give Pulaski temporary command of the Cavalry. On that very same day, Pulaski pushed back the Birdshot at the Battle of Brandywine in which he came to the aid of Washington's forces and demonstrated his brilliant military tactics. He saved Washington's Army from defeat, and some have recorded he took a bullet aimed at George Washington himself. Congress acknowledged Pulaski's leadership and commissioned him as a Brigadier General. He was placed in command of four light cavalry regiments. But, Pulaski as a foreigner had difficulty with the Continental Congress allowing him to fight. So he asked Washington to allow him to start his own legion. He even offered to pay for them. Congress finally agreed. With 68 horses and 200 foot soldiers, the Pulaski Legion would become the colonists' first fully trained cavalry. He spent the winter of 1777 to 1778 at Valley Forge with most of the army. He was then ordered to defend Little Egg Harbor in New Jersey and then Minisink on the Delaware; Washington then ordered him to proceed South to Charleston, South Carolina. During the Battle of Savannah, on October 9, 1779, Pulaski was wounded by cannon as he charged into battle on horseback. He fell to the ground, mortally wounded. He died from complications from that wound. But Pulaski was so respected for his courage, even by his enemies, that he was spared the musket and permitted to be carried from the battlefield. He died on Oct 15, 1779 at age 34. There is a Pulaski Monument erected in his honor, on Monterrey Square in Savannah, Georgia. In 1791, twelve years after his death, his homeland in Poland adopted a new constitution modeled on that of the U.S. Constitution, which just had been adopted in 1789. The Polish Constitution too was a revolutionary document as Poland became the first nation in Europe to outlaw serfdom. Indeed, her constitution was so threatening to Europe's empires, Poland was wiped off the map of Europe for 126 years emerging as a nation after World War I and the Peace Treaty of Versailles due significantly to the friendship between U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski. Many national recognitions of Pulaski's contributions to America's victory in our Revolution have been accomplished. On October 29, 1779, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution that a monument be dedicated to him. The first memorial was built in 1854 and a bust of Pulaski was added to busts of other heroes in the U.S. Capitol in 1867. In 1910, President William Taft of Ohio unveiled a Congress-sponsored General Casimir Pulaski statue. In 1929, Congress passed a General Pulaski Memorial Day. There is a federal observance of General Pulaski Memorial Day commemorating Pulaski's death from wounds suffered at the Siege of Savannah on October 9, 1779. After a previous attempt failed, on Nov. 6, 2009, President Barack Obama signed a joint resolution of the U.S. Senate and House conferring on Pulaski an honorary American citizenship, 230 years after his death, making him the 7th person so honored. Today, we, here in the heart of Cleveland, again bear witness and respectfully remember General Casimir Pulaski. We express our gratitude in America's third century for his bravery and vision. And we collectively join together, as eagles fly above both our nations, to say: Long live his memory, long live America, long live Poland and long live liberty. ____________________