CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner celebrated Casimir Pulaski Day by attending commemorative events at the Polish Museum of America to honor the Revolutionary War hero known as the “Father of the American Cavalry.”
Pulaski, a Warsaw-born immigrant who came to America to join the fight for independence, became a general in the Continental Army, created the Pulaski Cavalry Legion, and reformed the cavalry as a whole. He was gravely wounded at the Battle of Savannah and died shortly thereafter. He was 34.
Pulaski is one of only eight people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship. He joined the likes of William Penn and Winston Churchill in 2009.
Pulaski signed on to the American Revolution after meeting Benjamin Franklin in Paris. His first encounter against the British army was at the Battle of Brandywine in September of 1777. By 1778, he was in command of the Pulaski Legion, an independent cavalry unit that he trained in European fashion. The Legion, made up of Americans, Germans, Frenchmen, Irishmen, and Poles was credited with defending Pennsylvania and South Carolina. His final battle at Savannah took place in 1779.
In 1977, Illinois designated the first Monday in March as “Casimir Pulaski Day.” The day is one on which Illinoisans recognize Pulaski and, as important, the contributions that Polish Americans have made to the state and the nation.
Illinois is home to the second largest Polish population in the country.