Casimir Pulaski Day

This state holiday of Illinois honors Casimir Pulaski, a Polish fighter in the American Revolution known as the “Father of American Cavalry.” Schools close down to commemorate the holiday on March’s first Monday every year.

Other commemorations include educational events, parades, ceremonies, and other events. Along with Illinois, many Polish-American communities celebrate the holiday, especially areas like Chicago. The Day has been observed since 1977. Many Casimir Pulaski Day celebrations include a Polish cultural festival, which may serve foods such as sausages, potato pancakes, dumplings, fish, and pastries.

About Casimir Pulaski

Casimir Pulaski was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1745. With a specialization in cavalry, Pulaski grew up to become a major military commander of the Bar Confederation uprising against Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, during which he gained a worldwide reputation for bravery and leadership. After the uprising failed, he fled to France, as Poland’s courts had sentenced him to death. In France, he met Benjamin Franklin, who recruited Pulaski for the American Revolution. Pulaski had approached several other foreign armies, but due to his reputation as a loos canon of sorts, the United States was the first to accept his help.

His military career in the American Revolution included saving the life of Washington along with about 30 cavalrymen at the Battle of Brandywine, which won him the title of brigadier general of the cavalry. Pulaski took the four regiments, about 100 men, of the cavalry and completely reformed it, laying the groundwork for the cavalry’s future and strategy.

Issues with other military leaders, such as his hotheaded personality and poor English speaking, led him to resign from his post in 1778. He took the position again soon after, forming the Pulaski Cavalry legion, including 68 lancers and 200 infantry, which then grew to 330 total men. During his service, he suffered from Malaria, but died from a wound resulting from the siege of Savannah.

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