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I GREW UP on Pulaski Avenue, next to which were Sowinski and Kosciuszko Aveunes in Cleveland, Ohio. A fine ethnic neighborhood, that, with St. Casimir’s church and school just across the street.
This recollection arose while reading “New York Named a Bridge After Him. Now, Kosciuszko is Getting His Due at Home,” by Andrew Higgens, The New York Times,” July 7, 2019.
I hadn’t heard of Kosciuszko’s new bridge, though I’ve driven on the region’s Pulaski Skyway connecting Newark and Jersey City across the Passaic River. And I attended Sowinski Elementary School, lodged between Sowinski and Pulaski on Cleveland’s East Side.
Here are tidbits about these three patriots.
Tadeusz Kościuszko, according to Wikipedia, is considered a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States.
Kościuszko’s life was an adventurous one: Born in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, he moved to France in 1769 to study. Returning to his homeland and working as a tutor, he attempted to elope with his student, got soundly thrashed by her father’s retainers, and hightailed it back to France.
Two years later, in 1776, Kościuszko moved to North America and joined the Continental Army as a colonel. As a trained military architect, he designed and oversaw construction of fortifications, including those at West Point. In 1783, he was promoted to brigadier general by the Continental Congress.
A year later, Kościuszko returned to his homeland and was commissioned a major general in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Army. He took part in the Polish-Russian War of 1792.
A close friend of Thomas Jefferson, Kościuszko willed his American estate to be sold to buy the freedom of black slaves. Alas, his wishes were only partly carried out: An educational institute for blacks was established in his name in 1826.
Józef Sowiński, according to Wikipedia, was one of the heroes of Poland’s November 1830 Uprising.
Sowiński was graduated from Warsaw’s Corps of Cadets, the same famous military academy from which Kościuszko was an alumnus. In fact, Sowiński served in the Polish Army during the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794.
Sowiński lost a leg in the Battle of Mozhaysk, in Napoleon’s 1812 failed invasion of Russia. During the November 1830 Uprising against Russia, Sowiński served as artillery commander of the Warsaw garrison. In 1831, he commanded 1300 men in a heroic, albeit unsuccessful defense against 11 Russian battalions. Modern historians believe he was killed by the Russians just after the surrender negotiations.
Casimir Pulaski, according to Wikipedia, has been called, together with his counterpart Michael Kovats de Fabriczy, “the father of the American cavalry.”
Pulaski was driven into exile by the Russians after a failed uprising. On the advice of Benjamin Franklin, he traveled to North America to help the colonials in their Revolutionary War with Britain.
Pulaski once saved George Washington’s life, became a general in the Continental Army, and created the Pulaski Cavalry Legion. He died after being injured in the Battle of Savannah in 1779.
Pulaski is one of only eight people awarded honorary United States citizenship. Others include Winston Churchill, Raoul Wallenberg (who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews), William and Hannah Penn (as in Pennsylvania), Mother Teresa, Marquis de Lafayette and Bernardo de Galvez (two other heroes of the U.S. Revolutionary War). ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019