Schools around Illinois were not in session Monday to honor Casimir Pulaski. I’m pretty sure I’ve written a little about him before, being the history nut that I am, but in case you have forgotten, I’ll refresh your memory.
Pulaski was an immigrant from Poland, sort of. When he got here, he immediately ad- opted our country and fought for it. He is called the “Father of the American Calvary,” as he basically swooped in and helped establish our first cavalry during the American Revolution. He died in the war, defending our country.
A day to honor this guy was voted on a while back. There were a bunch of folks, including myself, who had no idea who he was or what all the hub-bub was about. Still, we were glad to have the day off. Now some hardcore military historians continue to dislike Casimir Pulaski. They say he was full of himself, refused to take orders, and was not a very nice guy. They say it was his way or the highway.
Well, I suppose some military bosses are like that. The easy going Benjamin Franklin liked Pulaski when he met him in Paris. We don’t know for certain if he liked his personality, but whatever the case, Franklin asked Pulaski to come to America and help us in the war. Pulaski agreed.
If you are a history buff, you probably already know we had help from other countries and there were plenty of other officers and soldiers from other countries helping us out. There were a lot of war heroes during the American Revolution who weren’t Americans.
Pulaski is a war hero, no doubt. Due to the large Polish-American population in Illinois, the idea came up a while back to vote on a state holiday honoring him. And here we are.
There really is a lot more to the Pulaski story. You can Google his name and read all kinds of things about him. You can hear about his military prowess, his intelligence, and how he was just like the guy we see in the movies: dashing, saber drawn, trumpet blowing, charging ahead toward the enemy.
Some folks have analyzed and over-analyzed Pulaski. Many still argue that we shouldn’t have a day off school to honor him. Most of them have a list of individuals who they think are more deserving.
I have my own ideas about Pulaski. I think he was a great friend to our country, even if he was cantankerous and hard to get along with. I mean, he left Paris and agreed to come over here and help us fight. Maybe I don’t know the full story, but I think that’s pretty cool. I’m OK with having a day off to honor him.
I also think schoolchildren should know about him. Even though we teachers are trying to cram every last bit of information into the heads of our students in order to score well on those beloved achievement tests, I think most of us still take time to talk about Pulaski a little. I hope most kids can tell you a little about him.
And you know me, I have my pet peeves. I have listened to people mispronounce his name for several years. Just refer to him as Pulaski. Please stop calling him “Cashmere.” I know you don’t mean to do it, but you’re getting on my nerves.
I’m also OK with honoring other folks. I’d be glad to take a look at the list those anti-Pulaski folks have.
Hey, I have an idea: Why don’t we start taking off periodic Mondays and Fridays and call them “Great American” days? I’m sure there would be people who’d agree. We could start in January. We could start with last names beginning with “A”. Can you imagine having a Friday off school to honor Abbott and Costello? Well, I suppose that would an “A” day and a “C” day. We’d need to take two days off for them. But I’m thinking out loud here.
No disrespect to Cashmere.
I mean, Casimir.