What’s Pulaski Day All About?

For over 80 years, Chicagoans have been honoring Casimir Pulaski for his role in American history. And yet, it was just over thirty years ago that the City of Chicago declared it an official holiday. On February 26, 1986, Mayor Harold Washington introduced a resolution to designate the first Monday in March Casimir Pulaski Day, and the City Council approved.

Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland in the late 1740s. At the time, Russia controlled Poland, and Pulaski helped mount an unsuccessful rebellion. After, he traveled to Paris, where he met Benjamin Franklin and learned of the North American British colonies' struggle for independence. Pulaski traveled to America, offered his military service to George Washington and went on to fight bravely in the American Revolutionary War.

The first official celebration by the City of Chicago took place on Sunday, March 2, 1986. Mayor Washington, noting Chicago's large Polish population, gave short remarks that reflect the historical moment, several years before the fall of the Berlin Wall and Poland's turn to democracy:

And that is why we honor Casimir Pulaski. Not only for his heroics in fighting for the freedom Poland was never able to achieve, but for fighting for the freedom which America did achieve and thus forming a new homeland for Poland's people to come to.

Explore more about Pulaski Day or Harold Washington through the Harold Washington Archives & Collections held in Special Collections.

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